Loren Jackson was a boy among men when as a Marine he landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945.
He was an ordinary man who walked an extra-ordinary path as part of “The Greatest Generation.”
“He really was part of the ‘Greatest Generation,’” said Melvin Caudill, Jackson’s lifelong friend of 45 years. “He considered it an honor to serve his country. He was part of the greatest generation this country has ever produced.”
The term “Greatest Generation” was coined to describe the generation of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and left home to fight in World War II.
Jackson was born November 25, 1919.
On Thursday a memorial service with an Honor Guard will be held at Hickory Grove Cemetery at 11 a.m. to honor the former Marine who died August 4.
Plans are to spread Jackson’s ashes around his son’ grave, Caudill said.
Travis Jackson died June 17, 1973 at age 20 from injures he received in an automobile accident. He was in the 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division and attended Grove schools.
In a letter dated March 24, 1945, Loren, who was in the weapons company, wrote “Had enough close ones there to last me several years as did every one else. There just wasn’t [sic] any safe places on Iwo for several days.”
In an interview with a local historian, Loren said when the Marines landed “I was running past pillboxes…to tell the truth we would have never taken Iwo Jima without flame-throwers.”
Loren said when the Marines took Mt. Suribachi and raised the flag “it was like a celebration. Like the fourth of July. All the ships were firing and all that.”
During the battle of Iwo Jima, photographer Joe Rosenthal shot the famed photograph of five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the flag, which happened on the fifth day of the 35-day battle.
The picture became the face of the battle. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal said of the flag raising, “…the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”
Loren said he was hiding in a foxhole when he saw the flag raising.
“I had a 12-gauge riot gun, shot gun, buckshot and I didn’t have any trouble with the …(enemy) getting into my hole,” Loren said in the interview.
“That was Loren,” Caudill said. “He really loved his country.”
Loren never saw himself as a hero that he truly was, he said.
Jackson survived the war and returned home with a Good Conduct medal and shrapnel in his left hand. He worked as a painter and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades.
In his later years Loren and John Swenson became friends.
“Loren had desire to change his life and become a Christian,” Swenson said.
Jim Pelley, with the First Christian Church took his confession and Swenson performed his baptism and started him reading the Bible.
“While he was at the Villa, I picked him up and took him to church until the time he moved to Monett,” Swenson said. “Each week when I picked him up on the way to church he would comment how good he felt about his decision.”
He was married three times, Caudill said. To his marriage to Florence Irene Taylor Jackson, they had four children, Travis, Randy, Sonya and Sharon.
Travis and Randy preceded Loren in death, Caudill said.
In reminiscing about their friend, both men comment about Loren, “he truly walked an extra-ordinary road.”
A memorial service for Loren Jackson will be held Thursday, September 24, 2009 at Hickory Grove Cemetery at 11 a.m.