Arthur J. Jackson

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Arthur J. Jackson
Born(1924-10-18)October 18, 1924
Cleveland, Ohio
DiedJune 14, 2017(2017-06-14) (aged 92)
Boise, Idaho
Place of burial
Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, Boise, Idaho
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
 United States Army
Years of service1943–1945, 1959–1962 (Marine Corps)
1945–1959, 1962–1984 (Army)
Unit3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/warsWorld War II Korean War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart (2)

Captain Arthur Junior Jackson (October 18, 1924 – June 14, 2017) was a United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Peleliu during World War II.[1][2] At the age of 19, PFC Jackson single-handedly destroyed 12 enemy pillboxes and killed 50 enemy soldiers. He was also the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Battle of Peleliu.

On September 30, 1961, while serving at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Jackson fatally shot a Cuban worker named Rubén Sabariego, whom he suspected was a communist spy, in self-defense after Sabariego attacked him.[1] He eventually buried the body in a shallow grave, but word leaked out.[1][2][3] He left the Marine Corps in 1962 after being denied a court-martial to clear his name.[1]

Early years[edit]

Arthur J. Jackson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 18, 1924. He grew up in Canton, Ohio and moved to Portland, Oregon with his parents in 1939 during the depression, and graduated from Grant High School there. After graduation, he worked in Alaska for a naval construction company until November 1942, when he returned to Portland and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18.

Military service[edit]

Jackson (right) speaks to sailors aboard the USS Peleliu in 2011

World War II[edit]

In January 1943, he began his recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, and soon thereafter joined the 1st Marine Division in Melbourne, Australia in June 1943. On January 13, 1944, while taking part in the Cape Gloucester campaign, he carried a wounded Marine to safety in the face of well-entrenched Japanese troops on the slope of a steep hill, saving the man's life. For this action, he was awarded a Letter of Commendation.

Following this, while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines as a Private First Class, he took part in the fighting and was wounded on Peleliu — for his heroic actions in that battle, he was awarded the Medal of Honor and was awarded his first Purple Heart. He again went into combat on Okinawa where, as a platoon sergeant with the 1st Marine Division, he was again wounded in action on May 18, 1945. That August, he was commissioned as a Marine second lieutenant.

During ceremonies at the White House on October 5, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented him with the nation's highest combat award — the Medal of Honor.


Following the war, he served in northern China during the post-war occupation of that country. On his return to the United States, he returned briefly to civilian life, but, shortly after, entered the United States Army Reserve where, in 1954, he reached the rank of captain. Although he served with the army during the Korean War, he returned to the Marine Corps in 1959.

Guantanamo shooting[edit]

On the night of September 30, 1961, while serving at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, during a night of heavy drinking, Jackson claimed he discovered Rubén López Sabariego, a Cuban bus driver at Guantanamo he suspected was a communist spy, in a restricted area.[1] On his own initiative, he and his executive officer, First Lieutenant William Szili, took López to a long-unused gate with the intention of removing him from the base. When they found the gate locked, Jackson sent Szili to find something to break the lock. When Szili returned, Jackson claimed that López attacked him and that he had to fatally shoot him with his .45 sidearm in self-defense.[1][4] Jackson first threw the body over a cliff, then recovered it with Szili's assistance the next day and buried it in a shallow grave, but word leaked out.[1] When his request for a court-martial to clear his name was denied, Jackson left the Corps in 1962.[1]

He remained active in the Army Reserves and eventually retired from that service in 1984. He also worked for the United States Postal Service.[5]

Jackson lived in Boise, Idaho, during his retirement, and died at a hospital there on June 14, 2017, at the age of 92.[1][6]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Medal of Honor
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Gold star
Purple Heart with award star
Presidential Unit Citation
China Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal with "Japan" clasp
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with two campaign stars
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
United Nations Service Medal for Korea

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Peleliu in the Palau Group, September 18, 1944. Boldly taking the initiative when his platoon's left flank advance was held up by the fire of Japanese troops concealed in strongly fortified positions, Private First Class Jackson unhesitatingly proceeded forward of our lines and, courageously defying the heavy barrages, charged a large pillbox housing approximately thirty-five enemy soldiers. Pouring his automatic fire into the opening of the fixed installation to trap the occupying troops, he hurled white phosphorus grenades and explosive charges brought up by a fellow Marine, demolishing the pillbox and killing all of the enemy. Advancing alone under the continuous fire from other hostile emplacements, he employed a similar means to smash two smaller positions in the immediate vicinity. Determined to crush the entire pocket of resistance although harassed on all sides by the shattering blasts of Japanese weapons and covered only by small rifle parties, he stormed one gun position after another, dealing death and destruction to the savagely fighting enemy in his inexorable drive against the remaining defenses and succeeded in wiping out a total of twelve pillboxes and fifty Japanese soldiers. Stouthearted and indomitable despite the terrific odds, Private First Class Jackson resolutely maintained control of the platoon's left flank movement throughout his valiant one-man assault and, by his cool decision and relentless fighting spirit during a critical situation, contributed essentially to the complete annihilation of the enemy in the southern sector of the island. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct in the face of extreme peril reflect the highest credit upon Private First Class Jackson and the United States Naval Service.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Adam Bernstein (June 17, 2017). "Arthur Jackson, Medal of Honor recipient for WWII 'one-man assault' at Peleliu, dies at 92". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b Tim Woodward (May 26, 2013). "Tim Woodward: WWII hero breaks long silence over shooting at Guantanamo". Idaho Statesman. Archived from the original on 2013-06-29. Retrieved May 27, 2013. Lopez died instantly. And Jackson was about to make a decision that would change his life, putting him at odds with the highest levels of President John F. Kennedy's administration. He hid the body. "I hoped no one would find out," he said. "The world found out."
  3. ^ Jana K. Lipman (2009). Guantánamo: A Working-class History Between Empire and Revolution. University of California Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 9780520942370. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
  4. ^ "Ex-Marine Says Castro Spy Shot At Guantanamo". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 28, 1963. pp. 1–2.
  5. ^ Sloane Brotherhood of Heroes, pp. 346-7.
  6. ^ John Sowell (June 15, 2017). "World War II hero, Medal of Honor recipient Art Jackson dies in Boise at age 92". Idaho Statesman.
  7. ^ "PFC Arthur J. Jackson, Medal of Honor, 1944, 3/7/1, Peleliu (Medal of Honor citation)". Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.


External links[edit]