“to help Rommel make up his mind to quit,” 1944

Looking in a place I’d never looked before I found something that took my breath away.

During World War II the Association of Rice Alumni tried hard to stay in touch with alums who were serving in the military, keeping tabs on their whereabouts to the extent possible and supplying them with current Rice publications, as well as maintaining records of Rice war service. The responses of our sailors and soldiers found their way into a large file folder, which I stumbled across last week. Here’s one of the questionnaires:

And here’s a remarkable response from Captain T. H. Jackson ’40, who found time to complain about the “damn Aggies” even as he heard the planes coming:

Here’s Captain Jackson as a Rice senior:

I’ll have another one tomorrow.

Bonus: There’s a tremendous amount of pipe being put in this summer.

 

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14 Responses to “to help Rommel make up his mind to quit,” 1944

  1. Richard Schafer says:

    Do we know if Capt. Hardy survived the war?

  2. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    A wonderful letter. Please post as many as you can.

  3. What an amazing letter. And an interesting hand, very very “flat”, more horizontal than vertical, except for “It’s those damn Aggies” where the amplitude increases. Look at “having” in the previous line, then “those” in the next, much more vertical. Then the planes are coming.

  4. joecwhite says:

    That letter is tremendous!

  5. almadenmike says:

    Here is a link to a short article about the 93rd Bombardment Group, which mentions the 328th bomb squadron, bases in Libya and the group’s missions to Ploesti and Italy: http://www.historynet.com/us-93rd-bombardment-group-flew-many-missions-throughout-world-war-ii.htm

  6. Cynthia Mulit says:

    Hello. Your thread was passed to me. I am the second child and second daughter of Thomas Hardy Jackson Jr. It’s very warming to see your appreciation. Yes, he was a wonderful man. I miss him everyday.

    I’d like to share some personal impressions about the letter and then share a war story that we heard growing up. I regret not getting verification of the story while he was alive for it indicates remarkable wartime contribution and credit to Rice education.

    The letter: I see his love for Rice. One of my most cherished possessions is his diploma for it meant so much to him. I also see his humor. He had impeccable comedic timing. We begged for stories at the dinner table. I have memories of my stomach hurting from laughter. Many stories involved youthful engineering projects gone wrong, e.g., creating an 3 sided ice rink where the 4th side was the front of the garage. His father (also Rice alum) drove home late at night, hit the ice sheet and crashed through the garage.

    The letter looks to me as if he were a bit tired or hurried; his penmanship was also a source of pride. I am amused that he jokes about expensive carousing with ‘damn Aggies.’ I knew there were lots of stories he didn’t tell his girls. As to the meaning of his closing because the planes were coming in, I don’t believe those were German planes. They were Allied ones. He had to end his letter to start his day’s work.

    My father was the lead person responsible for WWII airplane readiness at the Norfolk Airbase in England. The Allied planes that did return after a night of bombing would come back shot up. As lead mechanic, he supervised the repairs so that the planes could be returned to service. Dad said that to do his job he learned not to befriend pilots. That sad statement seared war reality into me. Another thing he said struck me as the ultimate in quality control. When the mechanics reported that they were finished with their repairs, they were required to personally take a test ride before passing the plane back to pilots for the next raid. That would tend to motivate solid work, for sure!

    Now, the other story. My father said that after the D Day landing he got a frantic summons to fly to the shores of France to personally assess a disaster. Apparently the tanks were lined up facing Germany to intentionally appear as if ready to move forward. The reality is that they couldn’t move. He landed and inspected. His conclusion: waterlogged spark plugs. His solution: remove the spark plugs, fly with them back to England, dry them out in airbase ovens and return them as fast as possible before the Germans found out.

    I’m not sure of his exact emotion. Was it awe or fear? Both? Anyway, there was an emotion related to amazement. The entire set amounted to only a couple of boxes, were all in one plane for a brief time and the Germans didn’t know. Apparently Patton was so impressed that he tried to have my father reassigned to him. My dad, aware of Patton’s particularly aggressive reputation, asked a higher up to pull strings to keep him in England.

    Is the spark plug story known? I wish I knew. If you all come across information related to the above, I am very interested.

    Sincerely, Cynthia Mulit, cynthia.mulit@me.com

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