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Eugene B. Jackson
Nickname Sonny
Born 1923 (1923)
Died September 20, 2015(2015-09-20)
Place of birth Portland, Maine
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army Air Force
Rank Master Sergeant
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Congressional Gold Medal
Spouse(s) Constance (Cordice) Jackson

Eugene B. Jackson was a mechanic in the United States Army Air Force who served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Jackson was born into one of the oldest black families in Portland, Maine in 1923. Growing up, he was the only black student in his elementary school of more than 350 and one of only twelve of the 1000 in his class at Portland High School, from which he graduated in 1941.[1]

Military service[edit | edit source]

Jackson originally tried to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, as many Americans had done prior to the United States' entry into the war, but was told to try in the US first. He joined the Army Air Force in 1942.[1] It was at this point, Jackson later claimed, that he first began to experience discrimination or intolerance based on his race.[2] Jackson first went to Fort Devens in Massachusetts after joining up, but was almost immediately sent, along with all the other black recruits, to Tuskegee, Alabama. Over the course of the following two years, he traveled across the United States to receive mechanical and aircraft instrument instruction, sparing him some of the worst example of racism acted upon the Tuskegee Airmen who remained in Alabama for the whole of their training.[1] Jackson was stationed in Italy and North Africa beginning in 1944 with the 332nd Fighter Group and followed them to mainland Europe after the Normandy invasion. For the duration of the war he was responsible for maintaining the groups' fighter plane radios and communications equipment.[2][3]

He was discharged at the end of the war but trouble finding a job as a black airplane mechanic in the civilian world led him to rejoin the military for a short time in 1950.[4]

Post-War[edit | edit source]

After leaving the military, Jackson worked as a machinist and on respiratory equipment for some time.[1] He moved to Boston briefly and then to Marshfield, Massachusetts and enrolled at Boston University as an engineering graduate. While there he met his future wife, Constance (Cordice) Jackson, a teacher in the public school system. He and Constance later traveled to many places throughout the world and immersed themselves in the culture of every country they visited.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Barnes, Jennette (January 20, 2013). "Flight pioneers look back". https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2013/01/20/local-tuskegee-airmen-recall-time-groundbreaking-air-corps/jjULciE7tdy553HTcGWnGN/story.html. Retrieved November 22, 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hoey, Dennis (September 27, 2015). "Eugene Jackson, 92, Portland native, member of famed Tuskegee Airmen". http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/27/feature-obituary-eugene-jackson-92-member-of-famed-tuskegee-airmen/. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  3. McKissack, Patricia; McKissack, Fredrick (1995). Red-Tail Angels:the Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. New York: Walker Publishing Company. ISBN 9780802782939. OCLC 32429004. 
  4. "Eugene B. Jackson". September 27, 2015. http://obituaries.pressherald.com/obituaries/mainetoday-pressherald/obituary.aspx?pid=175945434. Retrieved November 22, 2016. 

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