NATCHEZ, Miss. — A family is donating a veteran’s Korean War jacket to go on display at the Museum of Mississippi History.
The jacket belonged to Willie C. Pearson, who was 89 when he died in April. His grandson, Matthew Pearson, told The Natchez Democrat that the jacket had been stored in his grandparents’ house in Natchez.
Willie C. Pearson served in the Army. He was wounded three times, participating in battles including Heartbreak Ridge, the Punch Bowl and Million Dollar Mountain on the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s.
He grew up in McComb, Mississippi. He and his wife, Willie Lee Pearson, lived in Natchez for 61 years.
The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum — under one roof — are scheduled open Dec. 9 to celebrate the bicentennial of statehood.
Matthew Pearson said during the summer he was scrolling through Facebook, and he saw that the Department of Archives and History was looking for a Korean War jacket to exhibit. Pearson said he reached out to his grandmother.
“He said, ‘What do you think about donating Papaw’s jacket?'” Willie Lee Pearson said. “I said, ‘I think that would be just wonderful. It would be just another nice thing that we can do for him. He would be very proud.”
Matthew Pearson said the jacket was in a suitcase in the attic of his grandparents’ house.
“It must have been 200 degrees up there,” he said, laughing. “It’s amazing it held up so well.”
Matthew Pearson said he thought the museum would be a better place for it.
“I wanted to be able to share some history with future generations,” he said.
Nan Prince, director of collections for the Department of Archives and History, said she had been on a quest for some time to find a Korean War jacket. She said jackets from Vietnam and Korea had been the toughest to obtain, but she was pleased to have a complete set.
“We did not want to open the museum without the Korean War represented,” Prince said.
Willie Lee Pearson said her husband would be happy with the work his grandson has done to donate the jacket.
“I am sure there are many, many other good veterans out there who would have been proud to do the same thing,” she said. “I am very honored our family can do this.”