This Is Why We Stand: Arthur J. Jackson
Arthur J. Jackson will forever be remembered as a “one-man Marine Corps.” Jackson was presented the Medal of Honor for actions in the Battle of Peleliu during the Second World War. He is singlehandedly credited with destroying 12 enemy pillboxes and killing 50 Japanese soldiers. On June 14, 2017, Jackson passed away at the age of 92. His story must be remembered.
The Battle of Peleliu began on September 15, 1944 and lasted for two months. Peleliu is a volcanic island that runs only six miles long and two miles wide. Despite those dimensions, a Japanese garrison of more than 10,000 troops offered incredibly stiff resistance to American troops. The Japanese enacted measures such as entrenching in caves. Strategies like this contributed to the deaths of 1,800 Americans during the fighting on Peleliu. The U.S. also suffered another 8,000 injured. Through the relentless efforts of men like Arthur Jackson, victory was finally achieved on this island on November 27, 1944.
Wounded Marines are carried away from the front lines during the Battle of Peleliu. (Photo: civilwartalk.com)
On September 18, 1944, Private First Class Arthur Jackson was serving with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division on Peleliu. His platoon’s left flank was bogged down by concealed Japanese troops firing on them from strongly fortified bunkers. Jackson’s Medal of Honor Citation states that he, “Unhesitatingly proceeded forward of our lines and, courageously defying the heavy barrages, charged a large pillbox housing approximately 35 enemy soldiers.” Once in position, another Marine brought Jackson white phosphorus grenades and explosive charges. PFC. Jackson then hurled these explosives into the enemy position. The bunker was destroyed and everyone inside of it was killed. Other pockets of resistance still posed a clear threat. While under fire, Jackson continued to advance alone and destroyed two more enemy positions. He was determined to keep on fighting. Jackson's Medal of Honor Citation says, “He stormed one 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 twelve pillboxes and 50 Japanese soldiers.” Through his one-man assault, Jackson is credited with maintaining control of his platoon’s left flank. His Medal of Honor Citation adds, “His cool decision and relentless fighting spirit during a critical situation, contributed essentially to the complete annihilation of the enemy in the southern sector of the island.”
Arthur Jackson proudly wearing his Medal of Honor. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
Jackson was 19 years old at the time of his heroic actions on Peleliu. He would later be wounded as the fight for the island continued. PFC. Jackson also sustained injuries during the Battle of Okinawa. He received two Purple Hearts after returning home from the war.
During a ceremony at the White House on October 5, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Arthur J. Jackson. According to wearethemighty.com, “He was also congratulated by Marine Corps Commandant Alexander Vandegrift, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, and secretary of the Navy James Forrestal.” Jackson later recalled that during the ceremony, President Truman said, “He’d rather have the Medal of Honor than be President of the United States.”
A short video of Arthur Jackson speaking about the actions that led to him being awarded the Medal of Honor. Skip to 5:45 in the video to hear Jackson talk about the medal presentation at the White House in 1945. (YouTube Video: MedalOfHonorBook)
Wearethemighty.com writes that, “Decades after his service, Jackson visited military cemeteries and spoke about fallen soldiers as a way to keep their memories alive.” He understood the importance of never breaking faith with those who gave their lives for our freedom. We owe it to Arthur Jackson to remember everything that he did for our country. He was a special man and his memory will live on forever in the form of our flag. This is why we stand.
Full Medal of Honor Citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Peleliu in the Palau Group, September 18, 1944. 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, Private First Class 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 instillation 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 a similar means to smash two 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 one 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. Stouthearted and indomitable despite the assault, and, by his cool decision and relentless fighting spirit during a critical situation, contributed essentially to the complete annihilation of the enemy in the southern sector of the island. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct in the face of extreme peril reflect the highest credit upon Private First Class Jackson and the United States Naval Service."