Copyright © 2013 National World War II Museum. All rights reserved.
Jackson was born in Covina, California in 1924. He was a senior in high school on 7 December 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. It changed life completely. He does not know if people realize that the war changed everybody in every way.Jackson was planning his future. He wanted to be a civil engineer so he planned to go Chaffey Community College after high school. He graduated high school he saw that the war was becoming more severe. He knew he was not going to finish college and he felt it was his duty to do what he could for his country. He lasted about a semester then tried to figure out what would be a great help [Annotator's Note: to the US] and also benefit him.Jackson wanted to be a pilot, but his eyesight wasn't good enough. He recalled reading that there was no eye exam for glider pilots. The more he read about gliders the more he decided he did not want to be a glider pilot because of how high the death rate was.The Army had an Engineering Corps, a segment of which is the Topographical Engineers. He thought that he would fit well there since he studied some Engineering in college. He went to the Army recruiter in Los Angeles. He had originally gone to the Marine recruiter and was told he had to qualify without his glasses on the target range. Jackson was a little discouraged. He went to the Army recruiter and told them about the Topographical Engineers. The recruiter told him that since he was volunteering he could volunteer for anything he wanted. So he volunteered for that.He signed up and reported to Fort MacArthur near Los Angeles Harbor and waited for assignment. After a couple days his name was called and he was told to report to the Combat Engineers up at Fort Lewis, Washington. He said he had volunteered for the Topographical Engineers and was told they would take care of that up there. Lesson number 1, don't ever believe a recruiting sergeant.He became part of a combat engineering outfit. He went through basic training up there. Then they were transferred to the East Coast to become part of the 40th Combat Engineers which was expanding to become a regiment of 3 battalions. The 40th Combat Engineers went down to Florida and took amphibious training and became the first group to receive this training. He realized they would be going into an invasion. They shipped to North Africa with other units and became part of the invasion of Sicily.As amphibious engineers their job was to get the infantry across the beach and clear the obstacles. Sicily wasn't too much trouble.1 thing happened that wasn't reported for years. The 82nd Airborne was sending in troops for an air drop after the invasion force got in. They could hear the planes coming but they did not know it was the 82nd Airborne. They had had air raids for several nights. 1 of JacksonÂ’s friends said he thought the planes sounded like C-47's [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: Douglas C-47 Skytrain] and not to shoot them, but the whole Navy fired. It happened to be the 82nd Airborne and many of them were shot down. What had happened was the Luftwaffe [Annotator's Note: German Air Force] had flown over the 82nd and dropped their bombs through the formations which drew the fire. But it was not known for many years that that was what actually happened [Annotator's Note: this is not true].After the invasion they converted to combat engineering building bridges and clearing minefields. They moved up the coast to Agrigento, Sicily to Porto Empedocle. There they unloaded ships. They did that for several weeks.
All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at email@example.com if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.