CHRISTIAN, JR., THOMAS JONATHAN JACKSON
Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, Jr., Colonel in the United States Army Air Force and great grandson of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, was born on November 19, 1915, in San Francisco, California to Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, Sr. and Bertha Marguerite Cook. Christian attended the University of Chicago before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1935. On June 12, 1939, he graduated 45th in a class of 456 and chose to enter the Field Artillery branch of the U. S. Army, his father's branch of service, where he was appointed a Second Lieutenant. Soon after making his branch decision, Christian changed his mind and joined the Army Air Corps.
From 1939 to 1941, Christian was a student in Texas at the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Love Field in Dallas, the Air Corps Training Center at Randolph Field and the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, both in San Antonio. After receiving training as a pilot, Christian was assigned to the Philippines, where, after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, he was reassigned to Bataan, Mindanao, Australia, and Guadalcanal. While there, he flew B-17s and was shot down and declared missing in action somewhere in the South Pacific. He was able to return to the base after living with natives in the jungle. With the 1st Air Group, Christian landed on Guadalcanal on August 15, 1942. While there, he flew more than 60 hours in combat missions and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry. After being granted leave, Christian returned to the United States, where on January 2, 1943, he married Marjorie Lou Ashcroft, whom he met while in Dallas. While overseas, Christian became a father. His daughter, Lou Ellen, was born in January 1944, in Dallas. Having never met his daughter, Christian was killed in action on August 12, 1944, while flying a P-51 Mustang, which was named Lou IV, in honor of his daughter. Colonel Christian was shot down over Arras, France and his body was never recovered.
Reason for Eligibility: Approved, Texas State Cemetery Committee.
This is a memorial to Col. Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, he is not buried here.
Graduated US Military Academy Class of 1939
Colonel Thomas J. J. Christian Jr. KIA
Hometown: New York
Squadron: 361st Fighter Group, 375th Fighter Squadron, 8th USAAF -Headquarters Squadron 360th Air Service Group
Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Target: Arras Marshalling Yards, France. (Dive Bombing)
Mission Date: 12-Aug-44
Serial Number: #44-13410
Aircraft Model P-51D Mustang
Aircraft Name:: 'LouIV/Athelene
Location: Died in Arras, France
Thomas J. J. Christian Jr. graduated from West Point June 1939. He was the great grandson of the Confederate General Thomas J 'Stonewall' Jackson. He became a B-17 pilot flying from Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater where he was shot down and posted as 'M.I.A.'. He managed to make it back to friendly lines after surviving a period in the jungle with the help of natives. After returning to the United States, he married Marjorie Lou Ashcroft on 2 January 1943. They had 1 daughter named Lou. On 10 Feb 43 the 361st Fighter Group was activated at Richmond Army Air Base in Virginia and equipped with the P-47. The group sailed to the UK onboard the Queen Mary on 23 Nov 43, arriving on the Clyde 6 days later. The unit acquired its P-51s from May 44 onwards.
The unit operated from Bottisham in Cambridgeshire from 30 Nov 43 till 26 Sep. 44. Col Christian was lost on operations on 12 Aug 1944, whilst attacking the railway marshalling yard at Boisleux au Mont, a few miles south of Arras. He was 28 years old. His P-51D, Lou IV, was named after his daughter, Lou Ellen, who was born in January 1944 and whom he never saw. Lou IV had another name, 'Athelene', emblazoned on the starboard cowling. It is believed to be the name of the wife or partner of the aircraft's crew chief, S/Sgt D Jameson. On 12 Aug 44, the US 8th Air Force launched 1330 aircraft (B-17, B-24, P-38, P-47 and P-51s) against targets in central, east and north-east France (8th Air Force Mission 545). 18 aircraft failed to return (including four P-51s from the 361st FG, including Lou IV). 6 enemy aircraft were claimed as destroyed in the air (1 by an escort P-47 and 5 by P-38s); 13 further enemy aircraft were claimed as destroyed on the ground by P-47s.
In Europe, Christian flew more than 70 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.
Report by 2nd Lt. Robert J. Bain, pilot in Colonel Christian's flight.
"I was flying position number three of a three ship flight, lead by Colonel Christian. We approached the railway marshalling yard at Arras, France, from the north east direction at an altitude of 11,000 feet. We circled the target receiving instructions from Colonel Christian to make the bomb run from south to north, pulling up to the left after bombing. We were then in string formation, my position number two trailing our leader. Colonel Christian executed a half roll and split S, from an altitude of 11,000 feet. I watched his descent to at least 6,000 feet and then made my dive. Pulling out of my dive at 3,000 feet. I banked left and climbed to 6,000 feet and looked for the leader. Number three ship pulled up near to me, but neither he or I could find Colonel Christian. I observed a very good hit in the center of the railway yard, not caused by number three man or myself and assumed it was the Colonel's bombs. I repeatedly called our leader over the radio but never received an answer. The attack took place 15.05 hrs. 12th August 1944."
Shortly before his death Col Christian was photographed in his P-51D Mustang 44-13410 leading a group of four P-51s from the 361st Fighter Group. At the beginning of August 1944 the squadron increased the size of it's yellow nose band identification colour, to include the whole of the engine cowling, it is therefore believed that these photos were taken just a few days before he was tragically killed in action on the 12th.
Colonel Christian appears in Tablets of the Missing, Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial Neuville-en-Condroz Liège, Belgium lost 12-Aug-44. He has several cenotaph memorials in Texas State Cemetery Austin Travis County Texas and also in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery Lexington Virginia his body was never recovered.
Marjorie Lou Ashcroft Christian Wilson
1918–1984 (m. 1943)
Gravesite Details See Find A Grave Memorial# 130126351 for his daughter, Lou Ellen Christian Wilson.
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