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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Jackson, Merle

Date: August 7, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 212303

Biographical sketch: Merle Jackson grew up in Junction City, Kansas and moved to Lawrence, Kansas in August of 1933 when his father transferred there. His father worked for Union Pacific Railroad and his mother taught piano. In 1940 he went to work for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, D.C. and attended the inauguration of FDR for his third term. He tried to enlist in the Army Air Force or Navy Air Force but they wouldn't take him because he was underweight. However, when drafted, he was put in the Army Air Force at Camp Lee, Virginia on November 14, 1942. He was then sent to Miami Beach, Florida where because of his background with paperwork he was moved to the headquarters of Basic Training Center #9. One order that he wrote more than once was to change the names of Jewish men so they would not be recognized if they were captured. He said this was done under an act of Congress to protect them. In June of 1943 he was promoted to staff sergeant and was in charge of a troop train that went to Denver, Colorado. Because of a five day delay he was able to visit his parents in Lawrence and his good friend, it being the last time he ever saw him. From there he went to Moody Field, near Valdosta, Georgia which was a two-engine flying school. After the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945 he was transferred to a radio gunnery school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then to Texas for infantry training. All but about a hundred men of his unit were sent to Belgium but this group was sent to New Orleans and on July 27, 1945 he shipped out for Puerto Rico. After a couple of months he was promoted to sergeant major under General Lundberg, and anyone wanting to see him had to go through Mr. Jackson. He described the local situation in Puerto Rico as "bad", very poor living conditions. When General Lundberg retired the colonel wanted him to stay on but he had enough points to be discharged and he just wanted to get home to the States and get married. He wrote his own orders to return and made the destination Camp Gordon, Georgia for which he was "called on the carpet" for as procedure was to send a soldier as close to home as possible. In March 1946 he moved back to Lawrence, married and raised a family, and retired from Norris Brothers' Plumbing and Electric Company in 1982.

Summary: Jackson was inducted into the Army (Air Force) in 1942 and served until 1946 in the Basic Training Center #9. Interviewed by on Aug 7, 2007, Jackson talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the community institutions receiving grants. The transcript of the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Watkins Community Museum of History (Lawrence) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Video

Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-05-03  Mini DV Tape 

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