Billy Jackson remembered for lifetime of service

Published 10:27 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

One of Pike County’s oldest living veterans was laid to rest on Thursday.

William Lafayette Jackson, better known as Billy, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 96. He retired from the U.S. Army with more than 40 years of service on active duty and in the reserves.

“They don’t come any better than Billy Jackson,” Randy Ross, Pike County Veterans Affairs officer, said. “He served stateside during World War II and was in combat in the Korean War. He had a restored WWII Jeep and you would always see him driving it in parades.

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“Veterans like him were the fabric America was built on. He was dependable, loyal, trustworthy and very patriotic. That fabric ran through every part of their lives, not just their military service. He was one of the last of a dying breed of man.”

Jackson was a graduate of Troy State University and was a member of the university’s Wave Men band. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps at 18 and trained as a pilot. He flew stateside during WWII and flew combat missions during the Korean War.

Jackson was qualified on both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. After Korea, Jackson served in the Alabama National Guard and he served as commander of an aviation company and battalion, and as Director of the Directorate for Readiness. He retired from the Army after over 40 years of active and reserve duty with the rank of Colonel.

He worked for many years at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, as a civilian in charge of quality control for academic training. In that capacity he repre-sented Army Aviation at flight simulation conferences in Germany and elsewhere.  He was also selected as Trainer of the Year by the Army Aviation Association of America.

“I knew him thorough the American Legion,” American Legion Post 70 Commander Bob McClendon said. “He was very involved in the American Legion and always had projects he was doing. One of the keys to living a long time is to keep doing things. I don’t think I could keep up with him.”

The Rev. Ed Shirley served as Jackson’s pastor and also spoke at his funeral.

“He was a warrior and a musician,” Shirley said. “He knew the power of war and the power of music. He played at our early early service and we were always pleased with his selections.”

Shirley said Jackson was also appreciative of the service of others.

“I only spent four years in the Air Force,” Shirley said. “He would thank me for my ser-vice. He spent 43 years in the military, and I always felt like I should be telling him I appreciated his service.”