On the crisp Friday morning of October 25, 1963 at about 6:40 in the morning, Jim Jackson, father of five children, had just finished his breakfast, and was preparing to drive to work at the Air Preheater plant in Wellsville when he heard an explosion and dashed outdoors with his jacket in his hand to see what had happened.

Upon looking west, towards Wellsville, Jim saw a very large glow in the sky, which appeared quite close, so he shouted for his wife, Doris, to come along. They both jumped into the family car that was parked near the door and drove towards Wellsville. What they found is a very serious truck accident.

What had happened just minutes before, was a truck – tanker rig, carrying a cargo of emulsifying oil marked noninflammable, apparently left the highway on the north side just a short distance on Rt., 17 below the Andover dump by the Bill Burger farm. It went along the shoulder of the road for over 100 feet and collided with a row of steel guardrails reinforced with steel cables.

The impact broke off several of the guard posts, flattened the others, snapped the heavy cable with the truck, then plowing into the earthen bank near the Burger farm milk house, coming to a halt in a jack-knifed position partially across the highway.

The force of the collision was so great that it tore the front wheels and axle loose from the truck and probably resulted in sparking of the fire and explosion from the ruptured fuel tank on the tractor, which spewed flames all over the immediate area.

Jim told his wife to go back home and call the Fire Department while he ran up on the small dirt bank in front of the milk house and looked down into the remains of the truck where he could see the truck driver, apparently unconscious, with his clothing ablaze.

Jim hesitated an instant to debate whether he should pull the man out of the cab for fear of injuring more seriously, but realizing that the driver would burn to death in seconds, if he didn’t do something.

Still carrying his jacket in his hand, he dashed through the flames surrounding the truck, reached thru the open window, he covered the driver with his jacket and partially smothered the fire, opened the truck door and beat the remaining flames out with his bare hands, and pulled the driver out and got him over to the ditch line.

On stepping into the ditch, Jim found that the escaping oil was over his shoes and so slippery that he was unable to get the injured man any further, so he shouted to Leon McNeal, another Air Preheater employee, who was up on the bank having just arrived at the scene, and had him come down to assist him in carrying the burned driver onto the open ground beyond the flaming wreckage.

He then dashed over to Mr. Burger’s home and asked his wife for a blanket to put over the driver, and while she was securing this, called the Andover Fire Co., to make sure they were bringing the necessary equipment to the accident scene, then returned to cover the injured man and shouted to some bystanders to start putting the fire out before it burned the adjoining barn. The men immediately started to fight the fire, one man taking his jacket off to beat at the flames, while the others started stomping the flames out.

When the Andover Fire Dept. arrived on the scene with their pumper and tanker, they quickly extinguished the fire using the ample supply of water and foamite.

Mulholland’s local ambulance also arrived on the scene about this time and rushed the critically burned driver to Jones Memorial Hospital, with fourth degree burns on his right hand, third burns of the right arm; chest and right side, and second and third degree burs of the forehead and right side of his head, as well as several lacerations and was suffering from shock.

In the meantime, Fire Chief Bill Woodruff administered first aid to Jim Jackson who had received second-degree burns to his body while rescuing the driver from the flaming wreckage.

On Monday October 28, Mr. John White of Fort Edwards, N.Y., driver of the truck was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester in critical condition, for further emergency treatment.       

In the months to come James H. Jackson would be nominated for many awards throughout the county and state, and would win every one of them.

On June 9, 1964 Jim drove to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester to visit Mr. White. He found that he was recovering very nicely from his horrible mishap. However he was still undergoing skin grafts on both of his badly burned arm and hand. He had recovered the use of his right arm but naturally wouldn’t be able to use it until all of the skin grafts were done.

On July 8, 1964 Jim won the Allegany County Volunteer Firemen’s Association 1963 Fireman of The Year, at Bolivar.

On July 27, 1964, Jim won the Western N.Y. Volunteer Firemen of The Year for 1963, at Randolph, N.Y. This is composed of the 14 western counties of New York State.

On August 18, 1964 Jim won the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, Fireman of the Year Award, at New York City. He as also awarded the 1964 Schenley Bowl for Heroism in another ceremony. He also appeared on the “Today Show and the Ed Sullivan Show” during his stay there. The Air Preheater Corporation of Wellsville, N.Y, furnished Jim and Doris’s air transportation.

In the first part of January 1965 Jim Jackson received word that he had won the prestigious “Carnegie Hero Award” made by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission of Pittsburgh, Pa. This consisted of $750 and a bronze medal. This award is given out to only a very few people throughout the world. If you go to their web site and type in Jim’s name, you will find his complete story.

Jim and John became very close friends and visited each other often. John White died in Amarillo, Texas on August 28, 1993.

James H. Jackson died on December 15, 2005 and is buried in Valley Brook Cemetery in Andover.

Jim was a real hero and not many people ever knew it.


James H. Jackson

ANDOVER – James H. Jackson, 70, passed away Thursday (Dec. 15, 2005) at home following a lengthy illness.
Mr. Jackson was born Feb. 15, 1935, in Wellsville, to Clare and Anna (Cronk) Jackson.  On Nov. 21, 1955, he married Doris Updyke, who predeceased him Jan. 2, 2002.

James was a truck driver for 50 years, 37 of which were Air Preheater in Wellsville, until his retirement in 1991.

James is survived by three daughters, Kimberly (Dan) Haswell and Betty Matison, both of Andover, and Brenda (Jeff) Everett of New Homes Beach, Flap; three sons, James C. (Debra) Jackson of Andover, Del Jackson of Wellsville, and Jay (Juelie) Jackson of Belmont; two brothers, Clare Robert (Jean) Jackson of Andover, and Clyde (Francis) Jackson of Whiting, N.J.; 15 grandchildren, Roger (Tracy) Waters, James (Stephanie) Waters, Shane (Jamie) Sherwood, Christie Sherwood, Earl (Jennifer) Matison, Jeremy Matison, Quinton Jackson, Karlie Jackson, Lyndsay Jackson, Elliot Jackson, Carolyn Haswell, Nichole Willliams, Justine Williams, Meggan Williams and Desiree Williams; 11 great-grandchildren; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to his wife, a sister, Margaret Jackson, predeceased him.

James enjoyed hunting, fishing, farming and woodworking. He attended the Andover Christian & Missionary Alliance Church, and went on several mission trips to Guatemala and Mexico. He was a life member and past president of the Andover Rod and Gun club, and received his 50 – year certificate as a member of the Andover Fire Department. In 1964, he won the Firemen of the Year Award and the prestigious Carnegie Award for his heroism in saving a life.  But his legacy as a husband, father and grandfather is what he cherished the most.

Friends may call from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m. Monday at the Baker Swan Funeral Home in Andover. The funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home with the Rev. Harold Kiel of Bingham Center Bible Church, Pa. and Rev. William Anderson of the Andover Christian & Missionary Alliance Church, officiating. Burial will follow in the Valley Brook Cemetery, Andover.

The family has requested memorials be made to the Andover Rod and Gun Club or the Andover Fire and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 729, Andover, N.Y. 14806.