Jackson Gibbs was the father of NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He served as a pilot of a P-51 Mustang in the Army Air Forces in World War II. After his son left to join the U.S. Marines, Jackson Gibbs continued to live in the town of Stillwater. He was widowed some years before the events in the sixth season episode "Heartland." possibly before Leroy met Shannon or shortly before Shannon and Kelly's Gibbs' funeral.
During the episode "Frame Up", Gibbs mentions that his father painted pin-up girl Betty Grable on the nose of his P-51. During World War II, Gibbs' P-51 was shot up over Germany. Alone and wounded, Gibbs was guided back to friendly airspace by a chivalrous German Luftwaffe pilot.
In Season 10, he was revealed to have an estranged friendship with Leroy Jethro Moore, who also acted as the partial namesake of his son.
In the Season 11 Finale, it was revealed that Jackson suffered a fatal stroke while at work.
Relationship with Leroy
When Leroy Jethro was a child, Jackson often worked with his son on creating models of boats and planes. One instance had him creating a boat with his son in what was implied to be patching up for a fight between himself and his wife Ann Gibbs. He also forbade the use of a Winchester Rifle he had in the store, which he later reflected regarding the irony that his son grew up to be a sniper in the Marine Corps.
Jackson Gibbs relationship with his son, Leroy Jethro has been strained for a long time. Jackson mentioned that he believed that it was Shannon who was responsible for sending him Christmas cards every year, after she and Jethro were married. The strain on their relationship between Jethro and Jackson was heightened by the fact that Jethro was upset and angry that Jackson brought a girlfriend to Shannon and Kelly's funeral.
It was not until the conclusion of the sixth season episode "Heartland" that the two reconciled with each other.
A sign of the changing relationship between Jackson and Jethro occurred at the conclusion of the sixth season Christmas episode entitled 'Silent Night' when Jethro called Jackson to wish him a "Merry Christmas."
Jackson visited Gibbs for Christmas in the Season Seven Christmas episode Faith. When they got into a number of arguments, Gibbs asked Ducky to do some profiling, which turned out inconclusive. Jackson later admitted that he had been upset because his store had been robbed and he'd had to shoot the robber in self-defense.
In the season 7 finale, Paloma Reynosa who has a grudge against Gibbs for killing her father travels to Stillwater to kill Jackson. The episode ends in a cliffhanger with Paloma walking into Jackson's shop.
However, in the Season 8 debut episode, 'Spider and the Fly', it was shown that Gibbs had managed to warn Jackson of the Reynosa cartel's approach and as a result, Jackson was able to fight back against the cartel before escaping to Washington D.C., where he met up with Gibbs and Mike Franks.
Jackson later tried to pick up Gibbs to have him meet Walter Beck, a WWII pilot who saved his life during World War II in the Season 11 episode 'Better Angels'. However, he ended up ramming into the back of a parked vehicle when, after being redirected from a closed gas station, tried to look at a map and did not put his driving glasses back on, causing him to lose his driver's license and presumably end up arrested, resulting in the Maryland police calling Gibbs to pick him up (as Gibbs was the only contact on his cell phone) in the middle of an NCIS investigation. This eventually resulted in a falling out between father and son when, due to miscommunication between Jackson and Gibbs as well as the case becoming more serious, Gibbs felt he cannot see Beck. Gibbs and Jackson eventually patched things up and also located where Beck was.
The episode also revealed that he frequently told stories about his being saved by Walter Beck to Gibbs while they were creating model airplanes, although he neglected to tell him that Beck had actually been aligned with the Nazis during the war, resulting in a major amount of miscommunication between them throughout the episode.
In the Season 11 Finale of NCIS Honor Thy Father (episode), Vance informed Gibbs that Jackson had died after suffering a massive stroke. Gibbs returned to Stillwater, P.A. to handle things before his father's funeral. After arriving in Saltwater, Gibbs learnt that his father had taken in a troubled young man and helped the man turn his life around with the young man telling Gibbs that Jackson Gibbs had an impact on his life. This later led Gibbs to giving the man the keys to his father's store, implying that the man would become the new owner.
Jackson Gibbs was later given a state funeral and buried with the entire NCIS team except for Ziva David attending the funeral while Gibbs later received the folded American flag from a retired veteran.
- Jackson Gibbs was played by Ralph Waite who played Hank Booth, Seeley Booth's grandfather in the TV series, "Bones".
- On his Twitter, Jesse Stern revealed that actor James Garner was originally cast to play Jackson Gibbs but later suffered a stroke after reading the script for the Season 6 episode, Heartland (episode). As a result of that, Ralph Waite was given the role instead.
- The episode of Jackson's funeral was a tribute to Ralph Waite.