WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — J.W. Jackson always knew that he wanted to enlist to serve the United States after admiring servicemen who came from his hometown of Matador, Texas.
“There was a sailor that came in there to visit his folks every year and I thought, ‘man this is for me’,” Jackson said.
It was a calling he was all too eager to answer.
“I got a cab driver to sign my daddy’s name and I joined the army up in Amarillo and they found out and kicked me out,” Jackson said. “So then when I got 17, I finally begged him to sign the papers to let me go in the Navy, and that was October 14th, 1941.”
After finally getting his father’s permission, Jackson left for boot camp in San Diego, California, and then set off for duty.
Jackson first served in Pearl Harbor on the submarine base, and later in various parts of Australia, where he would serve as a First Class Boatswain Mate, facing unpredictable circumstances from Japanese opposition.
“And they would come over about every night and drop a bomb or two, of course, you didn’t have radar like now, you know, you can pinpoint and drop that bomb there. but then they just dropped it and hope it hit something,” Jackson said.
Despite facing daily risks during his six years in the Navy, Jackson said it’s time he wouldn’t trade for anything.
“I liked to do it all over again, as ol’ Bob Barnes used to say, I wish I was 18 again,” Jackson said.
Jackson still misses that time spent in the Navy, time that he said he’ll never forget.
Jackson has so much to celebrate this November.
Not only will he be commemorating Veteran’s Day on November 11, but he will also celebrate his 98th birthday on November 17, and he’s already looking forward to making it to his hundredth in 2023.