Family reunion? No, it’s Veterans Day for Christiana woman

November 11, 2020 – Jason Reynolds, The Murfreesboro Post

1943 – Joseph Walter Despot

A Christiana woman often thanks veterans for their service – and she has known a great many because her family has made serving in the military a tradition.

Barbara Jackson keeps mementos of her father’s service and a list of all those on both sides of her family who have served since World War I, including her husband and son. She said she calls her brothers on Veterans Day to thank them for their service.

Her father is Joseph Walter Despot. He was born July 31, 1919, in Pennsylvania and died on Sept. 19, 2015. He joined the Army in 1943 and served in the Army Air Corps. Despot retired after approximately 27 years, including time spent in the Reserve.

Jackson said she did not know the details of her father’s World War II service until he wrote them in a letter to his family shortly before his death.

Despot worked as a drill instructor and then went to a school in Mississippi to be an airplane mechanic, according to his letter. While living in Mississippi, he met his future wife, Grace. They got married just before he went to school to serve on a B-25 bomber. His crew served in the Pacific theater and ran bombing missions and trained to use torpedoes.

After the war, Despot was based in different areas around the United States and Europe, as well as Japan during the Korean War. He was later stationed in Greenland and Michigan. He was involved in some of the earliest days of aerial refueling, his daughter said. He retired while based at Stewart Air Force Base in Smyrna in 1970, she said.

Despot worked for Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. as a meter reader for 20 years. Along the way, he and Grace had four children and three generations of grandchildren. Grace preceded him in death in 2008 after having been married 65 years, Jackson said.

Her father also worked as a trapper and enjoyed reading the Bible, fishing in the Stones River and walking along the river, Jackson said.

Despot’s decades-long military service inspired his children and generations of grandchildren and others to join the military and serve their country, Jackson said. Some of her relatives also saw military service as a way to gain an education.


A list of Christiana resident Barbara Jackson’s relatives who have served in the military:

Joseph Walter Despot (Jackson’s father): Amy Air Corps/Air Force, about 27 years

Joseph W. Despot Jr.: Navy, 20 years

Joseph Albert Despot: Air Force, 20 years

Jodi Lynn Despot: Air Force

Michael Dale Despot: Air Force, 20 years

Johnny Despot: Army, World War II

Justin Despot: Navy

Stephanie Despot Finch: Navy

Frank Thomas French: Navy, 20 years

Billy W. Jackson (Jackson’s husband): Marine Corps

Troy Joseph Jackson (Jackson’s son): Army

C.C. Stingley: Army, World War I (lost a lung due to mustard gas)

Charles Stingley: Air Force

Levan Fullington: Air Force, 20 years

Frankie Despot: Army, World War II

Steve Despot: Army, Vietnam era

John Verbonitz (no branch mentioned)

Scott Verbonitz (no branch mentioned)

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