"Where the Fleet Goes,
We've Been"

“A people who do not honor the deeds of their worthy dead will do nothing worthy of being honored by their descendants. - Macaulay

Darrell L. Jackson, GM2/c

Darrell Larry Jackson was born on December 09, 1920 at Elkmont, TN. Elkmont was a railroad and logging town located on the western slope of the Smokey Mountains. The town is now a ghost town since the area became part of the Great Smokey Mountains NP.

Darrell grew up and went to school in Townsend, TN located on the Little River near Knoxville and was the 9th child born to Alexander and Vannie Jackson. There were 10 boys and one girl.

After graduating from high school in 1939 and finding nothing worthwhile to do in east Tennessee and following his older brothers he enlisted in the US Navy on February 02, 1940.

Enlistment was typical for a young man in those pre-war days. Seaman Apprentice Jackson attended basic training at Naval Training Center Norfolk, VA and did his fleet training on the USS Ranger CV-4 before assignment to the small arms armory in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, D.C. Darrell had an assignment to the Seaman’s Guard which was part of the White House Honor Guard. He had the occasion to serve in this guard for President Roosevelt and other foreign dignitaries during this time.

Darrell was stationed in Washington, D.C. from September 1940. During this period Darrell attended advanced ordnance training and was finally eventually assigned to minecraft training at Little Creek, VA in December 1943 before being ordered to the crew of the minesweeper USS Swerve AM 121 on January 23, 1944. His duty billet on the Swerve was to crew and maintain the 40MM, 20MM, 3.5” gun and depth charges.
USS Shelby
After the loss of the USS Swerve he received orders to the USS Shelby APA-105 (Attack Transport ship) and served on her until the end of the war. The USS Shelby participated in the US Naval Technical Mission to Japan at the end of the war and was one of the first US warships to steam into Sasebo, Japan to conduct survey operations to appraise the technological status of the Japanese Navy and Japanese industry.

At the end of the war Darrell was given the following medals and awards for his service:

American Area Campaign Medal
Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal
Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Medal
European African ME Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Six years on active duty in the US Navy and 4 of those years at war it was time to settle down and raise a family. Darrell married Alma Dell Campbell from Burns, Oregon in May 1943. They met in Washington, D.C. while Alma was a clerk typist for the War Department.

Settling in Oregon Darrell attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon on the GI Bill and worked as an account representative for National Cash Register to make ends meet.

The family moved to Dallas, Oregon to be closer to his in-laws and became manger of the Dallas Lumber and Supply Company.

Lt. JacksonWhile living in Dallas Darrell joined the Oregon National Guard as a Second Lieutenant in an armored tank unit. He held his commission for several years and during that time he was very active in the community. He was a volunteer scout master for the Boy Scouts, donated his time and materials to build a new Boy Scout lodge and was active in Toastmasters.

Eventually, he partnered with a friend to start a building truss company in fast growing Las Vegas, NV.

Unfortunately, this did not last. Darrell began to have serious problems with drinking and gambling. He separated from his wife and family and moved to Seattle, Washington and got a job with the Boeing Company as a parts expediter for Boeing's new 747 production project.

Darrell passed away at work from a massive heart attack on January 02, 1968.

Like many war veterans Darrell never talked much about the war, or the sinking of the Swerve. I asked him about it once in the mid 1950’s while watching an episode of Victory at Sea. All he said was, “we lost 3 men”. I never asked him about it again.

He did want to have a positive attitude about the war experience. He fancied himself to be a budding writer and always wanted to write about his war time life. He sent several stories to the Readers Digest Humor in Uniform page. Nothing was ever published, but he enjoyed trying anyway. I will paraphrase my favorite story he tried to publish:

After arriving in New York City after extended sea duty he wanted to purchase a gift for my mother. Looking smart in his dress blues he marched into the nearest department store and headed for the lingerie department. He walked up to the nearest clerk and said, “I would like to see something nice in a black negligee.” She stepped back and looked him up and down and said, “I’ll bet you would, Sailor!”

Since we are on the subject of humor, I can’t let this one go by:

dad and momA few years before my mother passed away while I was visiting her she pulled out his box of medals from the war. She didn’t know what they represented so she handed them to me for an explanation of their meaning. She handed me a medal with a maroon ribbon and asked what it was. I said this is the Navy Good Conduct Medal. She took it back from me and slowly rubbed the medal and felt the ribbon and quietly said, “Well, I guess the Navy didn’t know him very well.” I thought I was going to die laughing.

Darrell and Alma had 3 children: Dennis, Janis and Shelley. They have a legacy of 9 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Dennis G. JacksonBy Dennis G. Jackson, son
Mesa, AZ


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