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Squadron Leader John F. Jackson
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), No. 75 Squadron
Killed In Action P-40E Kittyhawk A-29-8 April 28, 1942
Background
John Francis Jackson was born February 23, 1908 to parents William James Jackson and Edith Annie Jackson in Clayfield a northern suburb of Brisbane, Queensland in Australia. On October 2, 1939 enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with serial number 493 and earned his wings and became a fighter pilot.

Wartime History
During 1939 he served with No. 23 Squadron in Australia. During 1940–1941 assigned to No. 3 Squadron flying the P-40 Tomahawk in the Middle East and served in the Western Desert of Egypt. He also was based at Jenin in Palestinian and Rayak Airfield in the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon (today Lebanon). On December 31, 1940 crashed Gloster Gladiator K6142 and survived the landing unhurt and was photographed with the upside down aircraft. Jackson met Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies during his visit to the Middle East. During October 1941 returned to Australia.

On March 4, 1942 Jackson became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of No. 75 Squadron activated at Garbutt Field at Townsville. At age 34, he was known as "Old John" to his fellow pilots. His younger brother, Flight Lieutenant Leslie "Les" D. Jackson was a pilot in the same squadron. Later that month, piloted P-40E Kittyhawk A29-7 on a flight northward to 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby in New Guinea.

On March 22, 1942 took off leading a flight of nine P-40E Kittyhawks on a mission against Lae with six P-40s were to strafe Lae Airfield while the other three P-40s flew top cover.

Shot Down Near Lae
On April 10, 1942 at dawn took off from 7 Mile Drome piloting P-40E Kittyhawk A29-24 on a reconnaissance mission over Lae-Salamaua-Nadzab. When this aircraft reached the Lae area, intercepted by three A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai piloted by FPO2c Un'ichi Miya, FPO3c Tatsusuke Goto and FPO3c Yutaka Kimura that took off from Lae Airfield at 7:15am on a Combat Air Patrol (CAP). The trio jointly claimed a lone "Supermarine Spitfire" [sic P-40E Kittyhawk A29-24] then landed safely at 9:20am. This was the first aerial victory claimed by the Tainan Kokutai. Caught by surprise, this P-40 was heavily damaged by gunfire that shot away the windscreen, left holes in the aircraft and was set on fire. Pilot Jackson successfully bailed out and opened his parachute and landed unhurt. When this P-40 failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

After bailing out, Jackson located two friendly natives who helped him to trek to Navos and was then taken to soldiers from the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR). On April 18, 1942 they transmitted a radio message to Port Moresby that "John F." was safe at Navos roughly twenty miles west of Salamaua. At Port Moresby, a rescue mission was planned using a U.S. Army Air Fore (USAAF) A-24 Dive Bomber escorted by a RAAF Kittyhawk. On April 23, 1942 a first attempt was made to pick him up but bad weather prevented the rescue aircraft from finding Wau.

Rescue by A-24
On April 24, 1942 rescued by A-24 Dive Bomber Tail 14 piloted by piloted 1st Lt. Virgil A. Schwab on a flight to Navos near Wau. After landing safely, Jackson sat in the rear gunner position. Returning to 7 Mile Drome, Schwab buzzed the runway to signal the mission was a success. While landing, an A6M2 Zero intercepted and hit the plane with gunfire including a 20mm cannon shell. Inside the fuselage, Jackson's right hand index fingertip was severed by shrapnel. Meanwhile, the escorting Kittyhawk piloted by John Piper attempted to drive away the Zero. To evade further attacks, the A-24 aborted the landing and flew to nearby 3 Mile Drome (Kila Drome) and landed safely. Afterwards, Schwab and Jackson were photographed with the parked plane.

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On April 28, 1942 the last photograph of Squadron Leader John F. Jackson wearing flight gear was taken at 7 Mile Drome. In the photograph, his right hand index finger is bandaged after the fingertip was severed by shrapnel on April 24, 1942. Later that day, he was Killed In Action (KIA).

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Mission History
On April 28, 1942 took off took off from 12 Mile Drome (Berry) near Port Moresby piloting P-40E Kittyhawk A29-8 scrambled to intercept A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group). During the air combat, this P-40 was claimed by FPO2c Izumi Hideo. Damaged by gunfire, this P-40 went in a vertical before crashing onto the eastern slope of Mount Lawes killing Jackson on impact. Also lost was P-40E Kittyhawk A29-47 piloted by F/Lt Barry M. Cox (MIA).

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, his remains were recovered and buried with a white cross that read: "493 493 Sqn Ldr. J. F. Jackson, DFC RAAF 28-4-42".

Awards
John Jackson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and was Mentioned In Dispatches (MID).

Aerial victory claims
Jackson is credited with 8 or 9 aerial victories during World War II.

Memorials
Jackson was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is permanently buried at Bomana War Cemetery at B2. C. 17. The grave reads: "493 Squadron Leader J. F. Jackson, DFC. Royal Australian Air Force 28th April 1942 age 34 Life is Eternal".

Afterwards, 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby was renamed "Jackson Drome" in his honor. Postwar known as "Jackson Airport" or "Jacksons International Airport". Today known as "Port Moresby Jacksons International Airport" or "Port Moresby International (Jacksons)".

Outside the old terminal building at Jackson Airport is a wing shaped memorial dedicated to Jackson. The bronze plaque in the center of the wing reads: "Erected in the memory of Squadron Leader John Francis Jackson, D.F.C. 75 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, killed in action 28th April, 1942 aged 34 for whom this airfield is named."

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On April 24, 2017 the Squadron Leader John Jackson Commemorative Display inside the international terminal departures lounge area of Jacksons International Airport was opened by his daughter Patricia Jackson and son Arthur Jackson. The commemorative display includes a glass display case with wreckage from his crashed Kittyhawk including both undercarriage legs and a bent .50 caliber machine gun. Also, photographs, artifacts and letters associated with Jackson and a timeline of his career with No. 75 Squadron defending Port Moresby.

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Relatives
William James Jackson (father)
Edith Annie Jackson (mother)
Elizabeth Jackson (wife)
Leslie "Les" D. Jackson (brother)
Patricia Jackson (daughter)
Arthur Jackson (son)

References
WW2 Nominal Roll - John F. Jackson, 493
S/Ldr John Jackson Flight Log
John F. Jackson Collection via Australian War Memorial (AWM)
CWGC - John Francis Jackson
FindAGrave - Squadron Leader John Francis Jackson (photo, grave photo)

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