|Retired Army Reserve Capt. Arthur J. Jackson (U. S. Navy)|
United States Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Captain Arthur J. Jackson visited the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu on Oct. 6.
Captain Arthur J. Jackson earned the Medal of Honor on Peleliu in World War II as a private first class. During ceremonies at the White House, 5 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented him with the Nation’s highest combat award.
Arthur J. Jackson was not quite 20 years old when his unit, the First Marine Division, attacked the Peleliu Island September 1944. He earned the Medal of Honor when he charged a heavily fortified hillside alone to protect the left flank as his unit advanced. He wiped out 12 machine gun pillboxes and killed 50 Japanese Imperial soldiers to take the hill while being wounded in the process.
Sixty seven years later, Jackson returned to Peleliu where he addressed the crew of more than 1,000 Sailors and Marines assembled in the ship’s hangar bay.
“To have Arthur Jackson on board was an incredible treat for the crew,” said Capt. James T. Cox, commanding officer of Peleliu. “He is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from among the eight that earned that award during the Battle of Peleliu.”
Jackson shared stories of the amphibious attack on the island while carrying a 14-pound canned ham that his mess sergeant had told him to take ashore and stories of destroying a pillbox filled with 35 Japanese soldiers.
“This is such a joy for me to be on this vessel,” Jackson said. “I was at the commissioning ceremony with my friend Everett Pope (another MOH recipient from the Battle of Peleliu). I also rode this ship on her maiden voyage from San Diego to Long Beach.”
Jackson came aboard with his wife and four other members of his family who joined Jackson in a tour of the ship. He presented a Medal of Honor flag to Capt. Cox – this is one of only two MOH flags recipients are awarded.
“I want to have this framed and placed in our Hall of Heroes across from the photos of the eight Medal of Honor recipients,” said Command Master Chief David Dearie.
The ship’s main passageway between the hangar and the mess decks, the Hall of Heroes, is lined with the photos, maps, and other items commemorating the Battle of Peleliu.
“It is so incredible to connect Arthur Jackson to this ship in such an intimate way,” Dearie said. “We are inexplicably connected through our namesake of the Battle of Peleliu and through the common cloth of our military service.”
|MOH Arthur J. Jackson|
Captain Jackson joined the 1st Marine Division at Melbourne, Australia, in June 1943. On 13 January of the following year, while taking part in the Cape Gloucester campaign, he carried a wounded Marine to safety in the face of well-entrenched Japanese troops on the slope of a steep hill, thus saving the wounded man’s life. For this action, he was awarded a Letter of Commendation.
Following this, he took part in the fighting on Peleliu, during which he earned the Medal of Honor and his first Purple Heart while serving with the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. He again went into combat on Okinawa where, as a platoon sergeant with the 1st Marine Division, he was again wounded in action, 18 May 1945. That August his commission as a Marine second lieutenant was effected.
Following the war, he served in North China during the post-war occupation of that country. On his return to the United States, he returned briefly to civilian life, but, shortly after, entered the U.S. Army Reserves where, in 1954, he made the rank of captain. Although he served with the Army during the Korean conflict, he returned to the Marine Corps in 1959. He again left the Corps in 1962 but remained active in the Army Reserves and eventually retired from that service in 1984.
Besides the Medal of Honor, the Letter of Commendation, and two Purple Hearts, Capt Jackson’s medals include: the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal.
Photo credit: Retired Army Reserve Capt. Arthur J. Jackson tours the bridge of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu. Jackson was one of eight Marines who were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery at the Battle of Peleliu during World War II, for which the ship was named. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Apprentice Alex Van’tLeven)