Good-bye, Lord, I’m Going To New York
The Secret Life of Belle Meade’s William Harding Jackson
Dust Jacket Hardcover
America would be very different if William Harding Jackson (1901– 1971) had not put his indelible stamp on the US government as OSS / War Department chief of secret intelligence in World War II Europe, cofounder of today’s Central Intelligence Agency, and his work as Eisenhower’s national security adviser. During the most dangerous times in our history and for decades beyond his death, there is no other American who influenced so many sensitive, top-secret national security matters more than Jackson. When Bill Jackson was in the room, everyone paid attention; and for a time in our history, three US presidents saw to it—personally.
Monday morning, December 8, 1941: Forty-one year old international polo star, Tommy Hitchcock, Jr., a dashing, successful investment banker at Lehman Brothers quietly folded the Times and laid it on the credenza in his office. He reached for the telephone and rang the number for Carter, Ledyard & Milburn, a respected old New York law firm just a few blocks away. The receptionist picked up the line at the other end and Tommy asked to speak to his friend, Bill Jackson, a prominent attorney, perched in his executive office with its large picture windows overlooking Wall Street. Jackson was just a year younger than Hitchcock. The two men had a lot in common. When they weren’t working, their families enjoyed a good life near the horse country and polo fields of Long Island. Tommy was chief executive for an expanding air transport company. Bill was president of the board of directors for a major hospital. In younger days, the two men were accomplished athletes. Jackson had played football at St. Mark’s and led the Princeton University Tigers to the national collegiate polo championship. Hitchcock was a war hero, a volunteer teenaged pilot of the famed World War One “Lafayette Escadrille” in France. He had been the world’s number one polo player for two decades. Both men were private pilots. On occasion, the two would commute to the financial district by seaplane or speedboat up the Hudson River. When Bill Jackson graduated from Harvard Law his first stop as a new law associate was Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Two years later he moved to Beekman-Bogue. By late 1930, he had found his way to the prestigious, albeit smaller and more focused Wall Street law firm of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn where he became a full partner (and the firm’s hiring partner) in 1934. By the time Tommy Hitchcock placed the phone call, Bill Jackson had become a well established Wall Street attorney with deep roots in New York’s elite legal and philanthropic circles. The two men’s lives were filled with client meetings, Brooks Brothers pinstriped suits, private planes, thoroughbred horses, and good schools for their kids – until that Monday morning when time seemed to stand still. Things had changed radically. Tommy glanced once again at the newspaper and abruptly asked Bill what he was going to do about the situation? Bill was aware of the weekend’s events but hadn’t really given it much thought. Unofficially, World War Two started overnight for Americans. On a lazy Sunday morning in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii had been attacked by Japanese warplanes. News reports were slow coming in. They estimated that hundreds, if not thousands, died in the attack. After years of relative isolationism following the bloody stalemate in the World War One Flanders Fields of Europe, it looked as though another major war was certain. America had formally declared its neutrality and avoided the war in Europe up to that point – but the events of the weekend were the proverbial last straw. Within hours there would be a formal Congressional declaration of war against Japan – and Germany would, in turn, declare war on the United States soon thereafter. Military service is normally reserved to men in their thirties, or younger. So, what drives successful forty year old businessmen to pull up roots and enlist in the armed forces? That’s exactly what Bill Jackson and Tommy Hitchcock did. Forgetting for the moment they were beyond their youthful prime and the fact that both men had growing families, Tommy spoke wistfully about the thrill of flying the Army’s high speed fighter planes. He told Bill, “…It’ll be like playing a championship game on the main field! Come on. Let’s fly down to Washington tomorrow and see what’s going on.” In those days, the average American male lived to about age 62. Two-thirds of their lives were behind them. Yet, just like that, the two men were off to war. One would not return, but remain a hero. The other would come back, his world tattered by war memories, but he would become a far more serious and determined man.
Vic Currier was born in Tucson, living most of his early years in the Southwest and on the Pacific Coast. He graduated high school in California followed by an unremarkable career at the University of Arizona where he became a top ROTC cadet officer. He volunteered for the US Air Force serving with the Military Airlift Command Travis AFB, California and in communications at the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. He was assigned to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam just in time for the Tet Offensive of 1969 -- where he worked over two-years in top-secret communications as a command post coordinator in computers, tele-communications, and ground-based navigational-aids for six air bases in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He "survived" dual-duty with the12th Security Police as a perimeter combat marksman during 30 enemy attacks. After more than two years in Vietnam, including one combat tour plus three voluntary combat assignments, Currier received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" for valor device & 2 oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 5 bronze campaign battle stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm. The author has traveled widely around North America, Japan, Indonesia, the Caribbean, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Australia during his lifetime. After the military, he returned to work for the SP-UP railroad and, later, served as terminal manager and labor relations officer at the Port of Los Angeles. That was followed by a 20-year management career in lending, insurance, and banking. He served four years as director of a large California bank -- then co-founded a regional mortgage loan company based in Phoenix; both of which required traveling many times to Washington and New York as a liaison with Wall Street bond-rating agencies and investment banks. He served three years as a fraud investigations coordinator working with FDIC and FBI investigators. He is the author of employer-specific operating manuals and has taught community education finance courses at Eastern New Mexico University. Currier is now retired, living in the central highlands of New Mexico with his wife of 28-years where they bred, raised and raced thoroughbred horses (1997--2008). He is a vocal advocate for military Veterans and families -- and is the radio Host of "Legacy Watch Veterans Hour" -- a weekly program broadcast to 26 regional radio stations. He is a member of the American Legion, AmVets, DAV and a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America – while working on his golf game and his next two history books about the American intelligence community -- to be released in late-2015.
I recall Chet Huntley in 1971 announcing the death of Bill Jackson on the national evening news and that was the last we ever heard about this remarkable man until now. Secrets were kept secret in order to protect our great nation. History changing read!
We have waited so long for this!!!! Well worth the wait! BRAVO!
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