Thursday, January 17, 2019

Legacy of MOH Recipients Honored at Newnan Armory

by Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Medal of Honor recipient Col. Joe Jackson accepts a saber from 1st. Lt. Wendall McMillanas a gift from his unit, Troop E, 348th Cavalry during the dedication
of the Jackson-Pless Armory in Newnan, Ga. April 22, 1978. Georgia Guard Archives
As the Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment attend weekend drill in Newnan, Ga., they pass through the doors of the Jackson-Pless Armory, which honors the memory of two Medal of Honor recipients.

Colonel Joe Jackson and the family of Maj. Stephen Pless attend
the unveiling of the citation dedicating the Georgia Army National
Guard Armory in Newnan, Ga. in honor of the two Medal of Honor
recipients April 22, 1978.Georgia Guard Archives. 
On April 22, 1978 the Newnan Armory was dedicated in honor of Air Force Col. Joe Jackson and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Stephen W. Pless, both former residents of Newnan. Colonel Jackson was in attendance as was the family of Maj. Pless for the official dedication by Georgia Governor John Busbee.

As the Governor spoke, four F-100 Super Sabre jet fighters of the Ga. Air National Guard streaked in the skies overhead. Joining in the aerial honors was a UH-1 helicopter of the Ga. ARNG.

“To place their names on this armory for all posterity to observe is a fitting tribute to these heroes,” said Governor Busbee during his dedication address. Busbee also noted the significance of the occasion because, at the time, only 23 Georgians had been honored with the nation’s highest award for valor.

Jackson and Pless, both pilots, were on their second tour of duty when they earned the Medal of Honor for life saving actions while surrounded by enemy forces in Vietnam. Colonel Jackson, the pilot of a C-123 aircraft was cited for making a daring rescue of three airmen at Kham Duc, South Vietnam on May 12, 1969. Major Pless, who died in a traffic accident July 20, 1969, was cited for landing a helicopter in the midst of Viet Cong forces and rescuing four American Soldiers stranded on a beach near Quang Ngai, South Vietnam on Aug. 9, 1967.

Mrs. William Smith, former wife of Maj. Pless is presented a gift 
from Col. James O. Hardin, Jr.,  (Ret.) on behalf of the United 
States Marine Corps Reserve during the dedication of the 
Jackson-Pless Armory in Newnan, Ga. April 22, 1978.  
Georgia Guard Archives
In addition to the armory dedication Jackson and Pless were honored with the presentation of ceremonial sabers by 1st Lt. Wendall McMillan representing Troop E, 348th Cavalry, 48th Infantry Brigade which occupied the Armory.[i]

Colonel Joe Jackson died Jan. 12, 2019 at his home in Washington. Company B, 2-121, is currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of its fourth combat deployment since September 11, 2011.

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