Tipp City couple co-author book about military life

Mike and Karen Jackson think the book they co-authored tells a different story about military life.

The focus of “From Vietnam to Operation Welcome Home” is on the effects of one spouse pursuing a career in the military while the other spouse and any children follow, moving from assignment to assignment.

Lt. Col. Mike Jackson, retired, is a Tipp City native who served as an Air Force pilot in Vietnam as part of a more than 20-year military career. Wife Karen was a teacher, when possible, who put family first as the couple moved 14 times during his service.

After retirement, they moved to Tipp City, where their daughters spent most of their years in school.

Karen Jackson was able to teach in the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools for more than 20 years. Mike Jackson continued working including as executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

He earlier wrote a book on Vietnam, “Naked in Da Nang,” with Tara Dixon Engel. That work told the story of Mike Jackson and fellow military members who served in Vietnam and came home to a less than cordial welcome in a country divided by the war.

The latest book also talks about the Operation Welcome Home effort that grew out of “Naked in Da Nang.” Mike Jackson and Dixon Engel coordinated the welcome home events, first in Las Vegas in 2005, to properly welcome those veterans home.

The Jacksons each wrote chapters with Mike Jackson first writing 10 chapters before allowing his wife to look at the result.

She said the chapters, “needed some work,” but they persevered to complete the effort. “I probably wrote the last three to four chapters. I was always there for this story, too,” Karen Jackson said.

Married 53 years, the Jacksons have two daughters, Lori and Katie, and five grandchildren. The book was written as something to give the grandchildren, Mike Jackson said.

“It is a story of the families as being heroes. They don’t get a vote in what happens,” he said.

“This is not just what happened to me after Vietnam but what happened to her and our kids,” Mike Jackson said. “This is about the trials and tribulations, if you want to call it that, of military families. We have a saying, ‘two for the price of one.’ She does all of the planning, the building houses.”

The Jacksons moved about every three years. At each new location, Karen Jackson would focus on making a home for however long as the family stayed. Some other spouses questioned why she’d change wallpaper and decorate each home.

“It was our home and I wanted to make it better for us while we were there,” Karen Jackson said.The book is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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