The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By JASON GIMA WURI
THE family of Royal Australian Air Force squadron leader John Francis Jackson, after whom Jackson Airport, in Port Moresby is named, visited Papua New Guinea for the first time yesterday.
Jackson was killed in April 1942 during World War II outside Port Moresby after being shot down in a dogfight with a Japanese aircraft.
His family, who arrived over the weekend, included his two children – Patricia, 72; her brother Arthur, 71, his wife Christine and their daughters Diane Fisk and Angela Groves.
Giving a speech on behalf of the family at the Jackson Wing Memorial near the old terminal and tower, Arthur said his father, who had died more than 69 years ago at the age of 34, was bridging history for PNG and Australia.
“To Patricia and me, he was the father we never knew, to many he is just a name connected to history, so I shall endeavour to put a personality to that name,” he said.
“What I have to say is based only on what I’ve heard from our family and friends, what has been written about him and he has written about himself,” Arthur said.
Within a month of the declaration of war in 1939, Jackson joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot officer.
“After all his battles during the WWII in Europe, Egypt and the Pacific, my dad and another pilot were killed after a dog fight with Japanese planes.
“It gives us great joy to have come to PNG to visit our father’s historical journey during WWII and what he has actually done to be recognised.
“To have PNG’s biggest international airport named after him is just exceptional,” Arthur said.
Australian High Commissioner Ian Kermish acknowledged the presence of the family, saying, “As the Jackson family, you have become reminders of a connection between Australia and PNG.
“There is a deep relationship based on the role that PNG has had in war with Australia more than any other country and it should deserve the media publicity that it is supposed to get back in Australia to recognise the efforts of our war heroes from the two nations,” he said.
The Jackson family visited the Bomana War Cemetery last Sunday afternoon and visited Owers’ Corner yesterday after the memorial service.
The family returns to Australia today.