Paul Jackson was badly wounded during the war

Friday, November 7, 2014

By Ivory Riner

Staff Writer

Paul Andrew Jackson was born on March 8, 1923, and grew up in Funston, Ga. His parents were D.C. Jackson and Florence Carter. He was married to Elene Yoemens and they had four children together, but lost one in 2001. After Elene passed away, he married Cynthia Bailey who had eight children.

In July 1940 he joined the 2nd Airborne Division and started building up for WWII. In 1943 he was a staff sergeant for the 13th Army Division at Camp Beale in Sacramento, Calif. He gave up his position to transfer to the paratroopers and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga. for basic training. He graduated from jump school and was sent overseas to England with the 501st parachute regiment infantry with the 101st Airborne.

On the fifth night of June, a few minutes past midnight, Jackson parachuted onto Normandy and landed in waist-deep water. He looked up and started walking towards Col. Johnson, picking up paratroopers along the way. That night they succeeded in securing the lock on the Douve River from the Germans. After taking the lock, they took Carentan, France, from the Germans. On Sept. 17 he jumped into Holland for General Montgomery. The idea of his regiment was to go through Holland and enter the back door of Germany to end the war. 10,000 paratroopers were sent to take over the bridge across the Rhine River. The operation was a failure and resulted in the death of 8,000 troops. Although it was a severe loss, the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment was awarded its first Presidential Unit Citation from President Eisenhower for gallantry in action.

On Dec. 19, his outfit met the Germans in Bastogne and fought a 10-hour battle to defend the perimeter near the Neffe against the first assault of German troops to attack Bastogne. On Jan. 20, 1945, Jackson was shot in the hip by a German machine gun during his advance towards Germany.

"When I was shot, I couldn't move any further. Five minutes later a medic came by with an aid kit. She gave me morphine and told me I was a lucky dog because I was getting to go home. I was then left lying in a foot of snow after I was wounded. Three hours later I was taken away on a stretcher and strapped to the hood of a jeep with other wounded men," said Jackson.

He was taken to a school house and was given plasma and blood through an IV. He said his arms and legs were frozen, so he could feel the plasma run through his veins, which warmed him up. He referred to this as being the best feelings of his life. The nurses laid warm cloths on his body to warm him up quickly. He was taken to Luxembourg where he had surgery done and was put in a body cast. He then was taken to First General Hospital in France, then to England. While waking up in the new hospital, he asked the doctors why he didn't remember anything. They told him that he had been overdosed on morphine because each doctor he went to gave him more, not knowing the doctor before had given him some. He stayed in England for two months then he was loaded onto the Queen Elizabeth to go back to the U.S. After being in the hospital in Jackson, Miss. for five months, he was finally healed. Upon discharge, he moved to Georgia, got married, and started a family.

He started his own bee keeping business producing two to three crops of honey per year. After leaving that business in 1987, Jackson says he's been doing nothing ever since.

He is a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and the Military Order of the Purple Hearts.

"While I was in the 501st, I was good buddies with a boy from Minnesota. Me and two other men were ordered to spy on the Germans. We went down into a ditch where no one could see us. The boy who was with us stood up and shot a German. The German turned around and shot my buddy in the neck. I held him in my arms as he gasped for air. That was the most shocking thing that ever happened to me," said Jackson.

In 2009, he went back to Holland and visited places that he had fought on. During his tour, he found a book, "In the Parameter of Bastogne" by Joss Heintz, that had detailed the war that he had fought in. He asked the store owner if they had a copy in English, but they didn't. That night, the store owner had someone translate the 200-page book into English and had it delivered to Jackson.