THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Leroy Jackson Was Career
Serviceman In Air Force
THE FOUR Jackson brothers from Palacios, all in the service during WWII. At left: Leroy, 1944 at Mather Field, Calif. In center photo, Leon is on the left, Henry is on the right, with Papa Jackson (Louis H.) between the two unidentified girls. Lafred is in photo on right.
(Ed. Note: Leroy Jackson submitted his story for the Rare Breed series in his own words.)
I was born Oct. 20, 1914 to Louis Hudson and Lillie Dove Aldis Jackson in Cuero. I lived most of my growing up years and went to school in Palacios.
After doing a hitch at the CCC camp at Madisonville, Tex., I enlisted in the then Army Air Corp (later to become the U.S. Air Force) as a private at Randolph Field, San Antonio, on Dec. 14, 1936. My brother, Lafred, Ray Anders and Van Powell were also enlisted at Randolph.
While home on leave, I met Melba Newton. We were married Sept. 4, 1940 and lived near the base until I was transferred to Mather Field, Sacramento, Calif.
At Mather, I was a maintenance technician in the 340th Navigation Training Squadron, inspecting airplanes (B25, AT6, AT7, C45 and B34). Thousands of pilots trained at Mather and it was my responsibility to see that the planes were safe to fly.
On Dec. 7, 1941, I was at the hospital in Sacramento, getting ready to take Melva and our first child, Leroy, Jr., home. The announcement came over the loudspeaker: "All GIs, take your wives and babies home and report to your base."
What a day! A new baby and a new war. At the base, we all sat around wondering what to do. Finally we went home.
Early in 1945, I was transferred to Douglas AFB in Arizona. By then we had Number Two son, Henry David. I was there only a short time when I got orders to The Philippines.
I took Melba and the boys to Conroe, Tex., to be with her family, while I was gone. When we got to Conroe, we heard the news that President Roosevelt had died.
My trip over to The Philippines was quite an experience. The ship was an old freighter that was broke down much of the time and went very slow. We slept in bunks five deep. With much seasickness and diarrhea going around, God help the man in the lower bunk.
Because we were being followed by a submarine, we were under blackout conditions and were not allowed to sleep on deck. The toilet facilities were not working, personal hygiene was impossible, and we ran out of food. The day's ration was an apple, a handful of ginger snaps, and a canteen of water.
One man was heard to comment that it would be a pleasure to get off this so-and-so boat and get shot. There was agreement all around. We were a sorry looking bunch.
Finally, we landed at Leyte. I was assigned to the 2nd Emergency Rescue Sq. in Zamboanga. After a short time there I was told to go to Morotai. Well, where was that and how do I get there?
I was told, "There's a landing strip down at the end of the island. Go down there and catch a ride."
I finally found a crude airstrip, an old shack and an old Sergeant. He asked me what I wanted and I told him I was supposed to catch a ride to Morotai. He told me, "Sit down over there, a plane may come along." I caught a ride on a C47.
The closest I came to getting shot was my first night on Morotai. When I got up to go to the latrine, I heard guns clicking all around. My tentmate stopped me. "You don't ever go to the latrine a night, go outside the tent," he said.
There were still Japanese soldiers in the jungles and at night they came into camp looking for food and were shot on sight.
One night as I was listening to the radio, with very poor reception, I kept hearing about a big bomb being dropped on Japan. The other guys said, "Oh, they're always bombing Japan." I told them, "No, this is different. The war is over!"
Later, I went to Clark Field and came back to the States on a much nicer ship.
I was discharged and re-enlisted at Fort Bliss, Tex. For my World War II service, I received the American Defense, American Theater, Asiatic-Pacific Theater, Philippine Liberation and Victory ribbons, plus the Good Conduct Medal.
I remained in the now U.S. Air Force until my retirement on July 10, 1957, after having also served in Korea. I retired as Master Sergeant, Maintenance Technician, from Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nev. Since that time, I have lived in Palacios.
I have three children, Leroy Louis, Jr., who lives in Markham; Henry David, who lives in Milano; Tex., and Linda Carol Truitt (born in Korea), who lives in Arlington, Tex. I also have seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one darned good wife of 62 years.
My three brothers also were in the service during World War II and I'm sorry that I don't have enough details to write them up.
Lafred was a career man and served on Guam. He was married to Sarah Dramburger from Seguin. He died in June of 1975, and Sarah died two years later. Leon was in the Army and served in Panama. He died Nov. 13, 1994. Henry was in the Air Force. After basic training, he went to Tinker AFB. He now lives at Rockport.
Leroy and Melba Jackson
Married Sept. 4, 1940.
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