Pless joins Jackson in Georgia Aviation Hall of FameStephen Wesley Pless and Joe M. Jackson are former Newnan residents who are military heroes. Both men are members of the distinguished honor roll of Americans who have received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military honor.
Both Pless and Jackson distinguished themselves as aviators during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Both men received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson on the same day in a ceremony in Washington. The president pointed out how unusual it was for the Medal of Honor to be presented to two men from the same small town -- Newnan -- in the same awards ceremony.
The names of Pless and Jackson are tied together in other ways. Both men were honored when the local Jackson-Pless National Guard Armory near Newnan High School was named for them.
Pless and Jackson are depicted in a sculpture at Veterans Memorial Plaza just north of downtown Newnan in City Park near the intersection of Jackson Street and Temple Avenue.
Pless was the only Marine pilot in Vietnam to receive the Medal of Honor. He was a UH-1 Huey helicopter in Vietnam in 1966-1967. He flew 780 combat missions. He was recognized with the Medal of Honor for his rescue of soldiers trapped by enemy fire.
Pless’ posthumous induction in the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame will once again link him with Joe M. Jackson.
Jackson, who resides on the west coast but who still visits Newnan, was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 1998.
Newnan and Coweta County are proud of all its military veterans. The community is especially proud of Joe Jackson and Stephen Pless, two extraordinary military heroes who served their country, fought for freedom and distinguished themselves when our nation was at war in Vietnam.
We are delighted these two men have been honored repeatedly, both locally and elsewhere. It’s important that we always remember our local military heroes who gave so much.