Medal of Honor

Jackson to be honored at UGA

by W. Winston Skinner

Col. Joe M. Jackson, a Newnan native who received the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam, will be honored at the University of Georgia Homecoming game on Nov. 9.

Alan J. DeWitt of the Hilliard W. Banks Foundation in Cornelia said Jackson, who now lives in Kent, Wash., will be attending the game. UGA will be playing Appalachian State University. ' Our foundation worked with the folks at UGA to have them recognize all Medal of Honor recipients from the state of Georgia. We tried to get the four living Medal of Honor recipients to come, but the other three already had committed themselves to other activities since it is the weekend of Veterans Day,' DeWitt said.

'All 27 Medal of Honor recipients from Georgia will be recognized through the use of the scoreboard and slides with their pictures and other information,' DeWitt said. Maj. Stephen Pless, who received his medal in the same ceremony as Jackson, was also born in Newnan.

Pless was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1969. He and Jackson are depicted in a sculpture at Veterans Memorial Plaza in the Newnan city park at Jackson Street and Temple Avenue.

Jackson, 90, has numerous relatives who still live in Newnan. The Hilliard A. Wilbanks Foundation is named for a Medal of Honor recipient who was born in Cornelia and who died from battle injuries in Vietnam in 1967.

Jackson graduated from Newnan High School in 1940 and joined the military in 1941. He wanted to be a pilot but was not allowed into flight training at the time because he only had a high school diploma.

Instead, he became an aircraft mechanic. But after the United States entered World War II, pilots were desperately needed. After passing a special test, Jackson was admitted to the Army Air Corps and assigned to pilot training.

Jackson earned his wings in 1943 and served in several stateside positions.

At the end of World War II, he considered coming back to Newnan and starting a business, but the job market was poor and he decided to make a career of the military.

Jackson flew 107 combat missions in his F-84 fighter during the Korean War.

In the early 1960s, Jackson was stationed in Albany, Ga., with a detachment of U-2 reconnaissance planes, highaltitude aircraft used to make top-secret photos of suspected enemy bases or equipment.

Jackson was part of the U-2 operation that photographed Soviet missiles installed in Cuba. The missiles precipitated the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, during which the United States and Soviet Union came perilously close to war before Soviet leaders capitulated to Pres. John F. Kennedy's demands that the missiles be removed.

Jackson later served in Europe and was then assigned to duty in Vietnam. Instead of jets, he flew C-123 cargo planes.

Jackson was flying a C-123 on May 12, 1968, Mother's Day, when he flew the mission that rescued stranded American troops at Kham Duc and resulted in Jackson being awarded the Medal of Honor.



More Local

Saddam captor speaks at First Baptist

U.S. Rep. Steve Russell told a full sanctuary at First Baptist Church of Newnan they must not let cynics and critics plot the future of Ame ... Read More


Confederate flag – heritage or hate?

The first time Tony saw the Confederate flag, he was 5 or 6 years old. It was the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. The image was burned ... Read More


Army surplus store honors local war hero

Coweta war hero Johnny Calhoun is back in Newnan. James Johnson, owner of Newnan Tactical & Army Surplus, builds mannequins representing ... Read More


Cause of Bulloch House fire still unknown

The origin of a fire that destroyed a Warm Springs restaurant on June 10 is still unknown – and may never be known. The Bulloch House, ... Read More


Battle flag only one of several Confederate flags in history

What has become properly known as the “Confederate flag” was never the flag of a nation or a state. The Confederacy had a nation ... Read More

July 4 events calendar full in Coweta

The local July 4 celebration will be a big one this year. With Independence Day falling on a Saturday, there will be more events than usual. ... Read More