Private 1st Class Roland P. Jackson (1913–1945)

Roland P. Jackson (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives, enhanced using MyHeritage)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
DelawarePhysical education teacher
BranchService Number
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve951463
TheaterUnit
PacificCompany “B,” 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Purple HeartIwo Jima
Military Occupational Specialty
745 (Rifleman)
Roland P. Jackson (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)

Early Life & Family

Roland Pusey Jackson was born in Newark, Delaware, on March 30, 1913.  He appears to have been the only child of Henry Roland Jackson (1891–1972) and Hannah Virginia Jackson (1895–1973, née Fulton).  Nicknamed “Boney,” Jackson grew up in Newark.  He was recorded on the census on April 14, 1930, living with his parents on East Park Avenue (presumably the street known today as East Park Place).

After graduating from Newark High School, Jackson attended the University of Delaware.  He played baseball, basketball, and soccer in college.  He graduated from U.D. with a Bachelor of Arts in June 1938.  Jackson was recorded on the census on April 10, 1940, living with his parents at 32 Center Street and working for a paint manufacturer.  One of Jackson’s neighbors at the time was 16-year-old Robert Gage Allen.  Allen, who lived at 24 Center Street, died during an operation to retake Corregidor in the Philippines just three days before Jackson landed on Iwo Jima.

A January 13, 1939, news item in Journal-Every Evening announced Jackson’s engagement to Josephine Ann George (1916–1991).  The couple married in Newark on September 21, 1940.  Jackson was working as a millwright (likely for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company—better known as the DuPont Company—the employer recorded when he registered for the draft the following month).  The Jacksons had one son, Roland Lamont “Monty” Jackson (1942–2009).

When Jackson registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was living at 52 North Street in Newark.  He was described as standing six feet, one inch tall and weighing 185 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.  The family later moved to 33 West Cleveland Avenue before Jackson entered the military.

A February 12, 1943, news item in Journal-Every Evening announced that Jackson had been hired as a physical education instructor at Newark High School.  That fall, Jackson coached the school football team, known as the Yellowjackets to a 5–3 season.  Early the next year, he was drafted along with a group of men including N.H.S. music teacher Frederick B. Kutz (1907–1976).

Jackson (standing in the back row at far left) with other Newark High School faculty in a group photo printed in the school’s 1943 yearbook. Click here to view the full page. (Courtesy of the Newark History Museum)

Military Career

Jackson joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1944.  The following day, he arrived at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he was assigned to the 13th Recruit Battalion.  After graduating from boot camp on May 30, 1944, he was transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  He was assigned to the 65th Replacement Battalion there on June 16, 1944, with the Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) of 521 (basic).  He went on furlough from June 22, 1944, through July 2, 1944.  The following month, on August 3–4, 1945, his unit departed Camp Lejeune by train, arriving in San Francisco, California, on August 8–9. 

On August 10, 1944, the 65th Replacement Battalion shipped out for Hawaii aboard a U.S. Army transport, U.S.A.T. Santa Isabel.  The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on August 17, 1944.  Three days later, Private Jackson transferred to the Replacement Battalion, Transient Center, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.  He remained there until September 18, 1944, when he joined Company “B,” 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division (also referred to as Baker Company or B/1/24).  Despite the replacements, the battalion was still understrength by the time it returned to combat five months later.

Geoffrey Roecker, who has written extensively about the history of 1st Battalion, 24th Marines in World War II, told me that “Jackson had a few months of training with B/1/24 at Camp Maui – the overseas home of the 4th Marine Division.”  On October 26, 1944, Jackson was promoted to private 1st class.  That same month, his M.O.S. changed from 521 (basic) to 745 (rifleman).   

U.S.S. Hendry, the transport aboard which Private 1st Class Jackson traveled to Iwo Jima (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

1st Battalion, 24th Marines muster rolls state that on January 3, 1945, Private 1st Class Jackson boarded the attack transport U.S.S. Hendry (APA-118) on Kahului, Maui.  The ship sailed for Pearl Harbor the following day, arriving on January 5, 1945.  Hendry transported the marines on maneuvers on January 7–8 and January 13–17. 

On the morning of January 27, 1945, U.S.S. Hendry sailed from Pearl Harbor as part of a convoy bound for the Mariana Islands.  After a brief stop for fuel and provisions at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, the convoy arrived at Saipan on February 11, 1945.  A report about U.S.S. Hendry’s operations during the invasion of Iwo Jima stated that after the vessel “Conducted exercises in ship to shore movement off Tinian on 13 and 14 February, 1945” before the transport sailed for Iwo Jima on February 16. 


Iwo Jima during the battle (National Archives via Naval History and Heritage Command)

The Battle of Iwo Jima

Roecker wrote in his article “Hell.  Iwo Jima: 19 February 1945” that

Every day aboard the Hendry, the platoons received briefings on a relief map of the island, lectures on field sanitation and chemical warfare, learned basic first aid from the corpsmen, stood weapons inspections, and did as much physical training as they could in the cramped space aboard ship. The battalion officers drilled the ship’s small boat officers relentlessly to make sure their men would get ashore safely.

The transport arrived off the coast of Iwo Jima on the morning of February 19, 1945.  She had 1,426 Marines aboard, including 214 from Private 1st Class Jackson’s company. Despite the intense bombardment of the island by air attack and naval gunfire, most Japanese fortifications were still intact when Marines began landing around 0900 hours.  As the division reserve, the 24th Marines remained aboard ship at the outset of the battle.  Private 1st Class Jackson may have watched from the deck of his transport as the first wave of Marines struggled ashore. 

Roecker wrote that at 1448 hours, 1st Battalion received orders to land immediately.  It took less than one hour to load and launch the landing craft, despite the transport briefly coming under Japanese artillery fire.  The men of 1st Battalion began landing at Beach Blue on Iwo Jima at approximately 1625 hours on February 19, 1945.  The bodies of men from the 25th Marines, cut down when they landed that morning, were strewn across the beach. 

Private 1st Class Jackson’s company (Company “B,” 1st Battalion, 24th Marines) pushed inland and relieved Company “L,” 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, digging in on a ridge taken at high cost. Casualties in Jackson’s company (four wounded, of whom two later died) were light in comparison to what was to come in the days that followed.  Japanese artillery fire continued throughout the night and small groups of Japanese soldiers probed the Marine lines.

Geoffrey Roecker wrote in his article “Basin.  Iwo Jima: 20 February 1945” that on February 20, 1945, some men from Jackson’s company were able to destroy a Japanese bunker with a can of gasoline and a thermite grenade.  Roecker continued:

Unfortunately, the immolation of the ammunition bunker would be one of Baker Company’s only successes for the day. Their commanding position was highly visible to the Japanese, who mercilessly pounded the blockhouses with mortars and small arms. Going outside was not a welcome option, but orders were orders and the company gamely tried to advance. “We tried to get off the ridge and gain some ground, we would gain a hundred yards, and then we would have to fall back up the ridge where we had some protection,” recalled PFC Charles Kubicek. “A hundred yards was a big move back then.”

Jackson’s company also came under friendly air and naval gunfire by mistake.  Baker Company casualties for the day were two dead and 27 wounded.  For the second night in a row, the Marines endured both Japanese artillery fire and attacks by small groups of Japanese infiltrators.

Geoffrey Roecker wrote that this photo depicts “Tired 4th Marine Division personnel, thought to be B/1/24th Marines” on Iwo Jima early in the battle. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo, courtesy of Geoffrey Roecker)

Roecker wrote in his article “Quarry.  Iwo Jima: 21 February 1945” that Able and Baker Companies were ordered to make another advance against Japanese fortifications on the morning of February 21, 1945:

Captain William A. Eddy’s boys stepped off on schedule at 0935. […] To their front were the Japanese, who greeted them with rifle, light machine gun, and mortar fire. Baker Company had a bone in its teeth that morning, and by 1000 had advanced the nigh-unthinkable distance of 200 yards. From their new vantage point, they could see Japanese soldiers well emplaced in caves along a ridge to their right front. More immediate danger came from the enemy soldiers they could not see, some of whom launched 50mm grenades from short-range “knee mortars” while others targeted the company with heavy mortars. The attack, which slowed under the rain of bombs at 1100, picked up steam again in the early afternoon, but for all their efforts, “the enemy resistance did not decrease.”

Sometime during the day’s combat, Private 1st Jackson was struck in the head by a shell fragment and killed.  The day’s combat cost Baker Company an additional one dead and 28 wounded.  Roecker wrote:

Roland Jackson and Gilbert Miller lay dead under bloody ponchos. There was no cemetery yet – there was no time, or space, or detail available to make one – so the dead were simply laid out in neat rows, or stacked like cordwood, in ever-increasing numbers.

Of the 214 Baker Company men who landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, 28 were killed (13%) and another 140 wounded (65%) during one month of combat.  Including casualties suffered by the 69 men who joined the company as replacements during the battle, Baker Company lost 42 dead, 169 wounded, and 2 sick, totaling 75% casualties.

Private 1st Class Jackson was initially buried at the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima.  Jackson’s wife Josephine learned of her husband’s death in a telegram by March 29, 1945, when the news was printed in Journal-Every Evening.  After the war, his body was returned to the United States and buried at the Baltimore National Cemetery in Maryland on June 10, 1948.  His widow, Josephine, did not remarry.


Notes

Widow’s Statement

The Individual Military Service Record filled out by Josephine Jackson stated that he entered the U.S.M.C. in Camden, New Jersey, while his casualty card listed Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Family-supplied information in these service records often contain inaccurate details.  She also stated that he was promoted to private 1st class upon graduation from boot camp on May 30, 1944, shipped out from San Diego, California on July 22, 1944, arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on August 4, 1944, and sailed from Hawaii on February 1, 1945.  All of those dates are contradicted by Marine Corps muster rolls.

Jackson’s Father

Jackson’s father worked at the Continental Diamond Fibre factory, eventually rising to foreman and then inspector.  He retired from the Budd Company after it acquired the factory.

Photo Enhancement

The photo at the top of this page was digitally enhanced using tools on the genealogy website MyHeritage.  This software is useful in instances where the only known photograph is of limited resolution (in this case, because the original print was fuzzy and had to be photographed through glass of a collage displayed at the Newark History Museum).  I believe this to be an accurate reconstruction, but the software could potentially introduce errors by misinterpreting fuzzy details in the original photograph.  A comparison of the original and enhanced versions of the photos can be viewed below. 

Comparison of the original (left) and the product of MyHeritage’s enhancements (right)

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Geoffrey Roecker, Webmaster & Lead Researcher at Missing Marines as well as The First Battalion, 24th Marines website, for providing extensive information about the last four months of Private 1st Class Jackson’s life. Thanks also to the Newark History Museum and Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photographs.


Bibliography

“17 Delaware Men Become War Casualties.”  Journal-Every Evening, March 29, 1945.  Pg. 1 and 25. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65608348/roland-jackson-casualty/

Delaware Marriages. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Hall of Records, Dover, Delaware. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61368/images/TH-266-12530-11115-29

“Elkton Marriages.” Every Evening, January 13, 1914.  Pg. 6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65677095/roland-jacksons-parents-wedding/

“Frederick Kutz.” Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=2441&h=5058613&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=2238

Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962.  Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland.   https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2590/images/40479_646933_0467-00628

“Henry R Jackson.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/206692769/henry-r-jackson

Jackson, Josephine G.  Roland Pusey Jackson Individual Military Service Record, March 3, 1946.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/19340

“Josephine Ann ‘Phine’ Jackson.” The News Journal, August 25, 1991.  Pg. B6.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65608806/josephine-ann-jackson/

Krawen 1943 (Newark High School yearbook).  Courtesy of the Newark History Museum.

Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1803–1958.  Record Group 127, Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_272234-00267 (March 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_272248-00266 (April 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_267635-00271 (May 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_272157-00559 (June 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_272398-00494 (July 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_269714-00539 and https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_269714-00548 (August 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_269736-00539 (September 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_269339-00491 (October 1944), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1089/images/33068_272282-00861 (January 1945)

“Newark.” Journal-Every Evening, February 12, 1943.  Pg. 14. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65608212/roland-jackson-nhs/

“Newark Opens Football Drills.” Journal-Every Evening, September 14, 1943. Pg. 18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65608162/roland-jackson/

“Newark Wins Over Conrad.” Journal-Every Evening, November 26, 1943.  Pg. 24.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65679107/yellowjackets-1943-season-end/

“Roland L. Jackson ‘Monty.’”  The News Journal, April 4, 2009.  Pg. 24. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65607980/obituary-for-roland-l-jackson-son-of/

“Police, Firemen, Teachers Listed Among Inductees.”  Wilmington Morning News, March 30, 1944. Pg. 1 and 9. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65614669/roland-jackson-drafted/

Roecker, Geoffrey. “Baker.”  The First Battalion, 24th Marines website. https://1-24thmarines.com/personnel/baker/

Roecker, Geoffrey. “Basin. Iwo Jima: 20 February 1945.”  The First Battalion, 24th Marines website. http://1-24thmarines.com//the-battles/iwo-jima/d1/

Roecker, Geoffrey. “Hell. Iwo Jima: 19 February 1945.”  The First Battalion, 24th Marines website.  http://1-24thmarines.com//the-battles/iwo-jima/dday/

Roecker, Geoffrey. “Quarry. Iwo Jima: 21 February 1945.”  The First Battalion, 24th Marines website. http://1-24thmarines.com//the-battles/iwo-jima/d2/

“Swedish Leaders Are Honored with U. of D. Degrees.”  Wilmington Morning News, June 7, 1938.  Pg. 1 and 18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65616194/jackson-graduation-ud/

“Their Engagements Announced.” Journal-Every Evening, January 13, 1939.  Pg. 20.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65614375/jackson-george-engagement/

United States of America, Bureau of the Census.  Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.  National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531890_00854

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00546-00187

U.S.M.C. Casualty Report card for Jackson, Roland Pusey.  Courtesy of Geoffrey Roecker.

U.S.S. Hendry (APA-118) war diary.  World War II War Diaries, 1941–1945.  Record Group 38, Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://www.fold3.com/image/295856754, https://www.fold3.com/image/295235168, https://www.fold3.com/image/295856770

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005207029_04237

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_10_00004-00897


Last updated on October 19, 2021

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