When Edmund Jackson of Tipp City, OH joined the Army Air Corps in World War II, he decided to keep a diary of his experiences. It wasn’t always an easy task, especially during the 30 days that he was escaping and evading with the Yugoslavian underground, after his B-24 was shot down.
“During that time, I kept my diary on any available scrap pieces of paper,” Jackson recalled. “But I knew I needed to keep writing it while I was missing in action. I figured if something happened to me, maybe someone would find it and give it to my family.”
Years later, those diary entries came in handy when Jackson’s children wanted to know more about his harrowing odyssey behind enemy lines. Drawing from the diaries, his memories, and a history of the 460th Bomb Group given to him by his family, the former waist gunner wrote out his story long-hand, and his wife, Winnie, typed it up.
“That’s all we did with it at first – just stapled the pages together and let it sit. Then my son Don decided it should be more like a book, so he put it on the computer and added pictures to it, and gave a copy to everyone in the family,” Jackson explained.
Like so many veterans, Ed Jackson had a great story to tell – a story that is part of the fabric of America’s military history. He is glad that his family encouraged him to put his recollections on paper – and he encourages other veterans to do likewise.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell your story. I never thought the things I did were any big deal, but people seemed to want to hear about them – and my family really appreciated knowing about my experiences in the war. I guess this is what history really is – people living through something and telling others what it was like,” he says.
Jackson recently donated a copy of his story to the Gift of Remembrance project. The Tipp City resident’s story was later chronicled in Michael Takiff’s Brave Men; Gentle Heroes (HarperCollins, 2003) and in his son Mike’s combat memoir, Naked In Da Nang (Zenith Press, 2004).
To view an excerpt from Ed Jackson's booklet, click here.
To view the entire booklet, click here.