Jack L. Phillips
2 Lt
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/06/1943 - 10/12/1945
B-17 Pilot, Eastern Flying Training Command

Jack Loyce Phillips was born "in the backroom of the Coleman house across the street from the First Methodist Church" in Gladewater, Texas. He believes his parents were renting the house. The Phillips came to Texas in the 1840s from Alabama, soon settling in what was to become the Gladewater area. His mother was Elizabeth Scarborough Phillips, who had already given birth to a daughter, Lavon, when Jack was born. His father, Loyce, was a bank teller, but learned the oil business when the East Texas Oil Field was discovered in 1930. "We had five hundred people in Gladewater when the oil boom happened. And we had six thousand overnight," he recalls. The elder Phillips began buying and selling leases. His family home was built in the 1930s with electricity and a telephone. The telephone number was 19. On Sunday the Phillips attended the Church of Christ. He recalls driving to a movie theater on Sunday afternoon in Gladewater when he heard on the car radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jack began flying at about age 16. He enrolled in a flight school in nearby Kilgore and soloed in eight hours in a Piper Cub. One reason for earning his license was his hope to join the U.S. Army Air Corps. Jack graduated from Gladewater High School in 1942. He enrolled at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri where a program allowed him to enlist within six months after reaching age 18. Jack left for basic training from St. Louis, arriving a week later in Miami Beach for basic training, then was sent to Cookeville, Tennessee to pilot technical institute. At Nashville he was tested and qualified to be a pilot. From there he was sent to Montgomery, Alabama for intensive officer training. Next, at Blackville, Arkansas, he learned to pack parachutes. He took primary flight training at Avon Park, Florida. He flew BT-13s in Greenwood, Mississippi, then returned to Blackville, Arkansas to fly AT-10s and AT-9s. There he graduated in March of 1945, earning his wings and his commission. Later, he would fly B-17s in Columbus, Ohio. "The war was over the day before I arrived there," he recalls. He was discharged at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas in October of 1945. When he was discharged he went to Dallas and purchased a PT-19 for $833. "I flew that thing home to Gladewater and landed in the cow pasture and I kept it for years," he recalls. On December 21, 1946, he married Barbara Wampler Phillips in Gladewater. (They would have two children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.) Jack entered the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Master of Science in geology in 1949. He began drilling in fields around Texas. He estimates he's drilled "a few hundred" wells and discovered 16 different fields.