Saturday, February 1, 2014

This Month in Rochester History

Fifty years ago this month, Rochester was mourning the death of Rochester native Sgt. William Eugene Jackson, who died from wounds suffered while serving in Vietnam on February 5, 1964.  The first Rochester resident to lose his life in the Vietnam War, Sgt. Jackson was the son of John W. and Elizabeth A. Jackson. He had deep roots in Rochester; his great-grandfather was William H. Jackson, who had established the Jackson Foundry at the south end of town in 1877.  William Eugene Jackson was a 1946 graduate of Rochester High School and had been a member of the United States Army since shortly after completing high school. He had also served as a radio instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Sgt. Jackson was in Vietnam as a Special Forces senior military advisor to Vietnamese soldiers at a mountain camp north of Saigon. When the camp was attacked by an enemy patrol, Jackson ran out to investigate and someone threw a flare to illuminate the area. The Vietnamese soldiers in Jackson's camp,  apparently confused by the attack and the sudden light from the flare, shot him in a tragic friendly fire accident. Jackson was evacuated to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, where he died after a series of surgeries and blood transfusions failed to stabilize his condition.

Sgt. William E. Jackson of Rochester, first local fatality in the Vietnam War, was laid to rest with honor in Arlington National Cemetery.  May he rest in peace.

Thanks to Rod and Susan Wilson for providing the copy of William Jackson's RHS high school graduation photo that accompanies this post.

1 comment:

  1. My Uncle Bill! My Mom, bill's sister will be so happy to see this article and know Bill is still remembered.