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Commanding Officer Col. Thomas J. J. Christian, Jr.
Stonewall Jackson's Great Grandson

P-51 Mustang fighters

This iconic World War II photo depicting the flight of four P-51 Mustang fighters was taken on July 26, 1944, from a camera posted on a B-17 Flying Fortress.
All four pilots served in the 361st Fighter Group, nicknamed the “Yellow Jackets,” and the commanding officer and flying lead plane in this photo was Col. Thomas J. J. Christian, Jr. The photo clearly shows the name on his plane to be Lou IV. Col. "Jack" Christian was Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson’s great-grandson.
Seventeen days after this photo was taken, Colonel Christian was killed and his Mustang destroyed in a dive-bombing attack against the Arras Railroad yard in Boisleux-au-Mont, France.

Born on November 19, 1915, in San Francisco, California, his father was an officer at the Presidio’s field artillery training school. Christian Sr.'s mother was Julia Jackson, Stonewall Jackson's daughter.


Christian Jr., who was called Jack, graduated 45 out of 456 at the United States Academy at West Point in 1939. He first joined the field artillery, following his father’s service, but soon changed to the Army Air Corps. Between 1939 and 1941, he studied in the Texas Flying School at Love Field, Dallas, and then became an instructor at Randolph Field near San Antonio. In March 1941, he transferred to the 19th Bombardment Group at Clark Field in the Philippines. By May 1942, he was in the 67th Pursuit Squadron; he was the very first U.S. Army pilot to land on Guadalcanal on August 15, 1942. He returned to the United States to marry Marjorie Ashcroft, whom he met while training in Dallas.

While at home, he formed and trained the 361st Fighter Group in Richmond, Virginia. He was their leader and now promoted to colonel when the “Yellow Jackets” arrived in England as part of the 8th Air Corps in November 1943. In January 1944, his wife gave birth to their daughter, Lou Ellen. That is why Jack had "Lou IV" painted on his Mustang. He would never meet his daughter.

A report by 2nd Lt. Robert Bain, a pilot in Colonel Christian’s flight on August 12, 1944, observed, “We circled the target receiving instruction from Colonel Christian to make the bomb run from south to north. ... I observed a very good hit in the center of the railway yard ... and assumed it was the Colonel’s bombs. I repeatedly called our leader over the radio but never received an answer."

The daily report from the 361st Flight Group noted, “Our Group paid the price when the Group and Station Commander, Colonel Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr. was reported Missing in Action. ... Christian molded a small and weak entity into a strong and hard hitting unit. ... His loss is noted in reverent tribute by all who had the pleasure to know or serve under him.”

In the Faubourg-d’Amiens, France, cemetery, he is commemorated by a special memorial inscribed with the words “believed to be buried in this cemetery.” He is the only American casualty believed to be there. He is also memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. He has a cenotaph memorial in the Texas State Cemetery, Austin, and another one in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

The exact location of his body is unknown.