If you know much of anything about the history of WWII you’ll recall these two main arenas of battle: European Theater of Operations (ETO) and Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO). However, most people are unaware there was another, little known third arena, called the China-Burma- India Theater of Operations (CBI).
Due to its extreme isolation, the CBI theater was the most difficult to supply for Allied forces during World War II. The fighting was vicious and consistent. CBI provided the reason for the unit called the “FLYING TIGERS,” under command of Major general Claire Chennault. Early in the war, General Chennault’s American Volunteer Group (AVG) of fighter pilots had valiantly held off superior numbers of Japanese planes.
Chennault was from the great state of Louisiana and there’s an extensive museum in his honor in Monroe. The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, home of the “Flying Tigers” is currently closed due to Covid-19, but WELL worth the visit as soon as they reopen.
Another distinguished combat group was Merrill’s Marauders who made an impact on the Burma campaign that far outweighed their numerical strength as the only American Infantry regiment in Asia. The Marauders fought much like our Special Forces of today. Numerous soldiers from Jackson Parish served in the CBI Theater in various countries and various capacities. Here are a few:
T/Sgt. DAVID L. CROWSON – Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Crowson from Jonesboro and husband of Helen Lockhart. He entered Army Air Corp, 1940 and trained in Louisiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. He served in ATO and APO in India and China. He was awarded Pre-Pearl Harbor, APO Ribbon and 1 Battle Star, Unit Citation Victory and Good Conduct. Discharged in 1945. (Crowson is the father of Jonesboro’s Charlotte Bailey, and she reports her father reenlisted in the U. S. Air Force in 1949 and served his country until 1963 until he retired from service)
F/O FLOYD B. FULLERTON- Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. F. Fullerton of Jonesboro and a graduate of Jonesboro Hodge High. He entered the army in 1940 and trained at Barksdale Field, La and Scott Field, Ill. He served in ETO, Awarded ETO, ATO, and CBI. He was KILLED in action in India in 1943 and received the Purple Heart.
Sgt. JAMES D. RASBERRY – Son of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders Rasberry of Hodge and graduate of Jonesboro High. He entered the Army Air Corp in 1943 and trained at Barksdale Field, La. Hamilton Field, Cal., March Field Cal., and Moffett Field Cal. Rasberry served in China, Burma, and India and was awarded Good Conduct, APO, CBI and Victory Ribbons. He was WOUNDED in Burma in 1941 and discharged in 1944.
Maj. GEORGE GIBBONS – Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Gibbons of Williamsport, TN and husband of Vera Smith. He entered the Army in 1942 and trained at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, He served in India and was discharged in 1946. (Dr. George Gibbons and Vera would make their home in Jonesboro, where he would serve the community as a primary care physician until his retirement)
T/4 ROBERT THOMAS – Son of Tempie Johnson of Colfax and husband of Louise Moore. He entered the army in 1942 and trained at Ft. Jackson, S. C. Served in CBI Theater and was awarded GC Medal and discharged in 1946.
Pfc FLOYD SMITH -Son of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Floyd of Jonesboro and attended Jonesboro Colored High School. He entered the Army in 1941 and trained at Ft. Belvoir, Va. He served in China, Burma, and India. Was awarded two Battle Stars and a BRONZE STAR and discharged in 1945.