Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Marty Jackson, who served as a fighter-bomber pilot in the Pacific during World War II.
Marty Jackson was born and raised in Chicago in the early 1920s. His parents were both descendants of Civil War Veterans. While Jackson was attending community college, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Jackson tried to enlist in the Navy the day after the attacks at the age of 18, but his father refused to consent.
In October 1942, he ultimately convinced his father to let him join the service, claiming that it would be safer as a pilot than as a foot soldier called up through the draft. Jackson joined the Army Air Forces.
In September 1944, Jackson completed pilot training at Sheppard Field, Texas, and received orders to Nadzab Airfield in New Guinea. Although he was placed in reserve status and not attached to a formal unit, Jackson flew convoy covers and conducted search missions in the Pacific Theatre. Unfortunately, only half of the pilots originally assigned to the airfield alongside him were still alive by the end of the war.
On Dec. 1, 1944, Jackson was assigned to the 58th Operations Group. He arrived at Mindoro Island in the Philippines in January 1945 after a trip from Numfor-Leyte-Mindoro. There, his unit experienced high levels of illness and disease. During World War II, Jackson had the opportunity to fly the P-40 Warhawk, the B-25 Mitchell bomber, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the C-47 Transport. He flew 72 combat missions, dropped over 50 tons of ordnance and totaled 215 combat hours over the Pacific. He told the Rapid City Journal, “We [pilots in unit] were mainly fighter-bombers supporting ground troops, …bombing airfields and convoys and bridges.”
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Jackson highlighted the negative impacts of the war on himself and other servicemembers, saying, “I didn’t want to be in combat anymore. None of us ever refused an assignment, but we were all scared. The brave guys were dead.” Finally, he conducted fighter sweeps over Kyushu Island. He witnessed the city of Nagasaki before and after the U.S. dropped the nuclear bomb.
After World War II, he returned to Chicago and graduated law school. Jackson then moved to Los Angeles and spent 30 years as a trial lawyer, banker and city councilman. He had two children with his first wife, who passed away in 1970 from complications with cancer. Jackson later married his second wife, Nora, and the couple retired to a mobile home park in Rancho Monserate in California.
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Writer: Alec Zimmerman
Editor: Katherine Berman and Christopher Wilson
Fact checker: Carl Wesseln
Graphic artist: Grace Yang