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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Thomas Walter Jackson World War II Collection

Identifier: 2018-12-06
The Thomas Walter Jackson World War II Collection contains textual materials, twenty-one photographs, and a digitized film clip pertaining to the military service of United States Army Air Corps pilot and squadron commander Major Thomas Walter "Walt" Jackson. Dates range from 1938 when Jackson began flight training to 1942, when he served and was killed in action during the Aleutian Islands campaign.

The collection is primarily correspondence from Jackson to his fiancée-then-wife, Helen Jane "Tyke" (Klinger) Jackson. The correspondence is sorted chronologically, beginning with his training at Randolph Field, Texas and culminating with his assignment in the Aleutian Islands in 1942. Also included are condolence letters to Helen Jane Jackson, ranging from 1942-1946 (bulk are in 1942-1943).

Additional textual materials include Jackson's identity card and three certificates, including a U.S. Army Air Corps commission, a 1943 Purple Heart award, and recognition and gratitude from President Roosevelt for his sacrifice. There are also assorted newspapers and clippings related to the Aleutian Islands campaign and Jackson's service and death which were grouped with a September 17, 1942 notification of death/condolence letter from Captain Mavis P. Kelsey to Mrs. Bess Jackson, Major Jackson's mother.

A photocopy of a notebook created by Helen Jane Jackson, circa 1942-1943, is also present. Helen Jane created the original notebook as a memento for their daughter Barbara, who was still a baby when Jackson died in service. The notebook begins with a personal letter from Helen Jane to Barbara and includes excerpts from Thomas Walter Jackson's letters to Helen Jane (copied in Helen Jane's handwriting), condolence letters from other military personnel at the time of his death, clippings about the Aleutian Island campaign, and images of Barbara as a baby. Original materials from the notebook include a September 17, 1942 notification of death/condolence letter from Captain Mavis P. Kelsey to Mrs. Helen Jane Jackson, a September 18, 1942 telegram informing Helen Jane that Jackson was missing in action since September 14, 1942, and an October 1, 1942 condolence letter from "Frank" (identified by the donor as Captain Francis F. Pope) to "Tyke." There are also several empty mail envelopes.

Twenty-one black-and-white photographs are also included, which vary in size from 2x3" to 8x10". Images depict Jackson, in both casual and posed settings; other military personnel; and obscured aircraft. An October 20, 1942 condolence letter from Leola McDonald to Helen Jane Jackson accompanies two photographs of Thomas Walter Jackson, one a casual group shot, the other a portrait of Jackson. Most of the photographs include brief captions on the reverse, providing contextual information such as names, dates, and locations. Per donor information, the flash drive contains digital video clips taken from 8mm film clips of Thomas Walter Jackson.


  • 1928-1942

Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The flash drive is currently unaccessible pending preservation of the digital media. The rest of the collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.40 Cubic Feet (1 full-width letter size document box, 1 oversize folder, and 1 flash drive)


Major Thomas Walter Jackson (1916-1942) was a United States Army Air Corps pilot and squadron commander who served in the Aleutian Island campaign during World War II. The collection contains textual materials, photographs, and a digitized film clip pertaining to the 1938-1942 military service of Jackson.

Biographical Note: Thomas Walter Jackson

Thomas Walter Jackson was a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot and squadron commander who served in the Aleutian Islands campaign during World War II. Thomas Walter "Walt" Jackson was born March 17, 1916 in Green Mountain, Iowa to Thomas Clarence and Bess Sellers Jackson who were farmers. He had an older sister, Frances, who was born in 1914. Jackson graduated from Green Mountain High School then attended University of Iowa for a year. Jackson completed a second year of college at Iowa State University, studying aeronautical engineering. He married Helen Jane "Tyke" Klinger on June 1, 1940 and their daughter, Barbara, was born May 6, 1942.

In July 1938, Jackson enrolled in the United States Army Air Corps Flying school at Randolph Field, Texas and received an honorable discharge on May 25, 1939 while at Kelly Field, Texas. Also in 1939, he became a Second lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve and was stationed at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. From 1939-1940 he was at Moffett Field, California and was promoted to First lieutenant. In January 1941, the 54th Pursuit Squadron, 343rd Fighter Group was activated and a month later Jackson became squadron commander. Jackson was promoted to Captain in early 1942. In April 1942, Jackson led a secret mission of four Lockheed Martin P-38 Lightnings to Alaska to assess flying conditions and in May 1942 he was called to the front lines in Alaska, as part of the World War II Aleutians Islands campaign. By June 1942, the squadron was at Elmendorf Field, Anchorage, Alaska. He received commendations for attempting to locate a transport plane and its crew that went missing near Cold Bay, Alaska in early July 1942. By late July/early August 1942, they had moved to Fort Glenn, Unmak Island and in early September to Adak Island.

On September 14, 1942 the squadron was part of the first large, coordinated air offensive against Kiska. Major Thomas Walter Jackson and Lt. Dewey Crowe were killed when their aircraft collided over North Head Bay while chasing an enemy aircraft.


Biography derived from donor information and collection material.
Historical Note: Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II In the Battle of the Aleutian Islands (June 1942-August 1943) during World War II (1939-45), U.S. military fought to remove Japanese garrisons established on a pair of U.S.-owned islands west of Alaska. In June 1942, Japan had seized the remote, sparsely inhabited islands of Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. It was the only U.S. soil Japan would claim during the war in the Pacific. The maneuver was possibly designed to divert U.S. forces during Japan’s attack on Midway Island (June 4-7, 1942) in the central Pacific. It is also possible the Japanese believed holding the two islands could prevent the U.S. from invading Japan via the Aleutians. Either way, the Japanese occupation was a blow to American morale. In May 1943, U.S. troops retook Attu and three months later reclaimed Kiska.

Sources and Further Reading:

From article. Online:

Aleutian Islands World War II. Online:

Aleutian Islands World War II: Unit Scrapbooks and Histories: 54th Fighter Squadron History. Online:

Cloe, John Haile. The Aleutian warriors: a history of the 11th Air Force & Fleet Air Wing 4. Anchorage: Anchorage Chapter, Air Force Association and Pictorial Histories Publishing co., 1990.

Custodial History

The collection was donated by Barbara Johns, the daughter of Thomas Walter Jackson.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Separated Materials

The following materials have been separated from the archival component and are kept in Objects storage:

  • World War II-era United States Army Air Corps uniform, including jacket, pants, and hat
  • Insignia pins

For more information contact us.

Processing Information

Original order has been maintained as much as possible, as organized by the donor. Photographs were sleeved and some items have been interleaved.
Guide to the Thomas Walter Jackson World War II Collection
Completed - Level 3
J. Parent
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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