Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stonewall Jackson's Great-Grandson: WWII Hero

As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of my primary interests as a Civil War historian is to research the life and times of descendants of top Civil War commanders - particularly their namesakes. I find that in many cases, their careers and contributions to society were just as fascinating as that of their Civil War ancestors. Today, I highlight the great-grandson of Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson - Col. Thomas J. Jackson Christian, Jr. - who performed heroic service as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War II. The highlighted photograph and biographical summary below are from the Texas State Cemetery website:

"CHRISTIAN, JR., THOMAS JONATHAN JACKSON (1915~1944) 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. Their permanent residence was Sulphur Springs.

While in the U. S., he formed and trained the 361st Fighter Group. They were sent to England in November 1943. 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. In March 1944 he was promoted to full Colonel.

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."


  1. Great post! I am working on a short book of love letters from the Civil War for Valentine's Day and I'm amazed at the tender side of Stonewall in his letters to his wife. It's interesting to read that his great-grandson followed in his footsteps and became an American hero.

  2. It is very interesting, indeed! Also, Colonel Christian's father, Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian Sr. (1888-1955) - Stonewall Jackson's grandson - was a U.S. Army brigadier general during World War II. It is definitely a distinguished military lineage!

  3. What became of Lou Ellen Christian, great, great grandchild of Stonewall Jackson?

  4. Colonel Christian is buried in the WW1 cemetary in Arras, France.

    Jason Webb

  5. Lou Ellen lost her battle with cancer on June 30, 2011 in Austin, Texas.

  6. Thomas Christian's last flight was from the now-gone airfield at Bottisham, England. A street in the village is now named Thomas Christian Way, and there is a plaque in the local Church. You can "visit" the village via street view in Google Earth. There is also a monument at Boisleux-au-Mont, France, the place where he was killed attacking the rail yards.


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