A hero of Peleliu was honored today at the Idaho Statehouse.
A month shy of his twentieth birthday, Art Jackson found himself in the middle of a battle that would forever be immortalized in Marine Corps lore. On September 15, 1944 the 1st Marine Division began its amphibious assault on Peleliu, a six square mile plot of land in the Palau island group in the southeastern portion of the Philippine Sea. Because of the existence of an airstrip on the island, the capture of Peleliu was considered essential to protecting the right flank of General MacArthur’s forces poised to begin their assault on the Philippines.
(From Military History Online)
The Japanese forces were well-entrenched and disciplined, and resistance was fierce. Casualties mounted on both sides as the Marines fought for every inch of land.
On the third day of fighting, Private First Class Jackson was with the 7th Marines on the right flank of the U.S. forces. As his Medal of Honor citation reads, “Boldly taking the initiative when his platoon’s left flank advance was held up by the fire of Japanese troops concealed in strongly fortified positions, Pfc. Jackson unhesitatingly proceeded forward of our lines and, courageously defying the heavy barrages, charged a large pillbox housing approximately 35 enemy soldiers. Pouring his automatic fire into the opening of the fixed installation to trap the occupying troops, he hurled white phosphorus grenades and explosive charges brought up by a fellow marine, demolishing the pillbox and killing all of the enemy. Advancing alone under the continuous fire from other hostile emplacements, he employed similar means to smash 2 smaller positions in the immediate vicinity. Determined to crush the entire pocket of resistance although harassed on all sides by the shattering blasts of Japanese weapons and covered only by small rifle parties, he stormed 1 gun position after another, dealing death and destruction to the savagely fighting enemy in his inexorable drive against the remaining defenses, and succeeded in wiping out a total of 12 pillboxes and 50 Japanese soldiers.”
Art went on to fight in Okinawa and in the Korean War. He was presented his Medal of Honor by President Truman in 1945.
Today, nearly 67 years later, he was honored once more by the Idaho Senate and House of Representatives. He is not only our hero of the week, he is a hero for the ages.
Arthur J. Jackson at the Statehouse with Representative (and fellow veteran) Marv Hagedorn on Feb 24, 2011 (photo by Rep. Hagedorn)