Col. Ret. Billy Jackson honored as parade grand marshal

Published 3:00 am Friday, June 24, 2016

Col. Ret. William “Billy” Jackson will be honored as the Grand Marshal of the Brundidge Business Association’s 2016 Independence Day Parade in downtown Brundidge at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Delatha Mobley, BBA parade co-chair, said Jackson was named the Grand Marshal of the Independence Day Parade in recognition of his longtime military service and as a lifelong American patriot.

“Billy served our country during two wars, World War II and Korea,” Mobley said. “He continued to serve as a member of the Alabama Air National Guard and as an education specialist at Fort Rucker. We are honored to have Billy Jackson as our Grand Marshall.”

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Jackson said his family has a long history of military service dating back to his great, great, great grandfather who fought in the Indian War.

“My grandfathers on both my father’s side and my mother’s side fought in the Civil War,” Jackson said. “My father fought in World War I. My older brothers served in WWII and my younger brother served in Korea.

Jackson’s military service began when he “volunteered” at age 17.

“During World War II, when young men turned 18, they could not volunteer. They were drafted and sent to Fort McClellan in Anniston,” Jackson said. “There, they put you where they needed you. But, if you signed on when you were 17, you could choose your branch of service.”

Jackson had written in his high school yearbook that he wanted to be a pilot.

“So, I signed on with the old Army Air Corps,” he said. “I was trained as a twin engine pilot and spent my time in the country.”

When WWII ended, Jackson continued to serve with the Alabama Air Nation Guard. It was from there that he was called back into service during the Korean War.

“In Korea, I was flying observation aircraft making flights from a half mile to a mile into North Korea,” Jackson said. “I was flying in to see what was happening close to the front lines.”

Jackson said if an observation aircraft flew out of position, the Koreans bombard the planes with what was called air tags.

“Shells would be exploding all around you,” Jackson said. “But, when we were under fire, we didn’t have to continue the mission, we could ‘run away’ from that position.”

Back home in the states, Jackson continued his service with the Alabama Air National Guard and as an educational specialist at Fort Rucker Training Center.

All totaled, Jackson logged 5,000 flight hours. He has flown 27 different aircrafts and was honored with the Army Trainer of the Year award.

Jackson said he is honored to have been chosen the Grand Marshall of the 2016 Independence Day Parade in Brundidge.

“I am proud to have served my country,” he said. “I’m proud to be an American. I come from a family of patriots. We would all do it again, gladly and proudly. God was good to us. He brought us all home.”