Jackson: Really retired this time
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Most people know Charles Jackson as a Brewton resident and civic leader of Escambia County; but for much of the last 35 years, Col. Charles Jackson, USMC, has made the world his home.
Jackson joined the Marine Corps in 1972. His military service, although personally rewarding, has taken both him and his family through some of the country's toughest times. His career path has spanned the time period between the closing days of the Vietnam War to the present day Global War on Terrorism campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 1991, Jackson participated in combat operations in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, followed by Humanitarian Assistance Missions in Somalia in 1994 and 1995, serving as a United Nations peacekeeper. Jackson returned to the Mid-East in 1998 when he was assigned Intelligence Director for Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia combat actions during operations Desert Fox and Southern Watch over Iraq. Much of his distinguished career was served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a force reconnaissance officer where he completed more than 130 parachute jumps, his final two jumps taking place in Egypt. When he transitioned from the Marine Infantry Officer field to the military intelligence field in 1985, he had already served in 25 foreign countries.
Like most people, Jackson will never forget where he was on Sept. 11, 2001 - a place unforgettable to another generation – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Having just completed his tour as chief of staff, Marine Forces Pacific, he was awaiting the arrival of his retirement day. His wife of 34 years, Cindy Jackson, had already purchased her tickets to attend his retirement ceremony and spend some well-earned time with him in Hawaii before returning to Brewton.
Circumstances of that day in September not only postponed his retirement parade, but also resulted in him receiving presidential recall orders as he had received in 1991 for Desert Storm. Serving the government as an intelligence officer, along with others in the military, his future was now totally dependent on the Homeland Security Act of 2001. The next few years were full for Jackson, who finally saw his retirement parade arrive in August 2002, but returned to military service just two months later. Jackson was deployed to Iraq in 2003, commanding one of the Defense Intelligence Agency teams searching for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before returning to the Pentagon and his second attempt at retirement Jan. 1, 2004.
Jackson vividly recalls his thoughts just two weeks later when he was asked to return to Washington as a defense contractor.
That preventive measure proved unsuccessful as well, and in December 2004, he was recalled to active duty for service a second time with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.
Jackson was born in Montgomery while his father was in the U.S. Navy. Ironically, h is father was recalled to active duty in 1950 for the Korean Conflict. In fact his dad didn't even get to see his newborn son until he was six months old. He was the third of four children born to Christopher Columbus (C.C.) Jackson and Clara White Jackson, both natives of the Brewton area.
Years later, while the family lived in Mississippi, his mother took it upon herself to go back to college and earned her master's degree, much of which was earned during the summer months. In 1967 the Jackson family moved to Brewton where his mother had taken a job the year before as an instructor at Jefferson Davis Junior College. The following year Jackson graduated in the T.R. Miller High School Class of 1968. He says he was a good student while in school, participated in sports, and played trumpet in the band three years. He attended JDJC for two years before transferring to the University of West Florida and earning bachelor's degree in economics.
However, he was instead commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 1972 Infantry Officer Class just in time to see the war in Vietnam come to an end. He left active duty shortly after the war ended in 1973, but remained in the military reserves and moved back to Brewton. Jackson's military service has earned him numerous personal medals and awards during his career, including the Legion of Merit in 2002 for his retirement award and the Bronze Star Combat medal in 2003 for service in Iraq. In 1974, he entered the family business, Jackson Mobile Homes Sales, where he worked for about four years. He became an agent with Alabama Farm Bureau Insurance in 1979 and then an independent insurance agent in 1982 before being licensed as an independent investment broker in 1985. In 1990, Jackson was recalled to active duty by world events, requiring him to place his civilian career on the back burner. He returned to Brewton one year later and resumed his civilian career, including an unsuccessful attempt at politics in 2000 when he sought the office of Escambia County Probate Judge. Although the attempt was unsuccessful, he remains politically active and serves on the county's Republican Executive Committee.
The Jacksons have two daughters. Michelle and her husband, Rob Sumrall, live in DeQuincy, La., and have two children, Joshua and Laura Beth. Michelle is a pediatrician in Lake Charles, La., and Rob is a Baptist minister. Charlotte and her husband, Rafael Alverez, live in Tuscaloosa and have one son, Samuel. Charlotte is an elementary teacher and ESL Specialist for the Tuscaloosa County BOE while Rafael is a graduate professor at University of Alabama.
The Jacksons are members of Catawba Springs Baptist Church near their home in the McCall community where he is an ordained deacon and has been a choir member for 30 years. Jackson has been a Kiwanian for more than 20 years, serving twice as the club president, and as regional lieutenant governor in 1987. The Jacksons own Green Acres Memorial Gardens, located on land that has been in their family since the mid 1800s. Both Charles and Cindy are active in the Escambia County Firefighters Association where he has been the treasurer for 22 years. Although Cindy has worked at W.S. Neal Middle School for 24 years, she has remained busy overseeing Jackson's businesses in his absence, and she currently serves as president of the McCall Volunteer Fire department.