An Unassuming Hero

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An Unassuming Hero

Post by 'beer on Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:28 pm

02-20-2009-- -- Paul Connors

An Unassuming Hero

It’s not every day that one gets to meet a living recipient of the Medal of Honor. In the last four years, I’ve had the good fortune to meet two recipients of our nation’s highest award for valor from the Vietnam War. The first was former Senator and Governor of Nebraska Bob Kerrey and I met him at the memorial service held for SFTT founder, the late Colonel David Hackworth (USA, Ret.) when he was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery in May 2005. The second and most recent meeting occurred this past Sunday evening (January 11, 2009) and it took place at a small Italian restaurant named Tuscany Bistro in Pluckemin, New Jersey. This local family owned restaurant served as the venue for a book signing for Colonel Jack Jacobs, Infantry, U.S. Army (Ret.), recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions as a young First Lieutenant assigned as an advisor to a South Vietnamese infantry regiment in Kien Phuong province, Republic of Vietnam on March 9, 1968.



Jack Jacobs may or may not be known to many of you reading this column but then again, members of the armed forces and students of the Vietnam War, as well as those who watch the networks that provide military analysis may realize that they have seen him. Before his TV show on MSNBC was cancelled, Don Imus used to regularly host Colonel Jacobs while soliciting his views on various military operations conducted by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although I knew who Colonel Jacobs was, I got to meet him purely by chance when I saw a flyer announcing the book signing at Tuscany Bistro. I also knew that his book, IF NOT NOW, WHEN? had recently been published. Living nearby in New Jersey afforded me the unique opportunity to meet a man I knew about and admired, a retired officer who fought in America’s longest and most unpopular war and who returned to be receive the Medal of Honor from the late President Richard Nixon in 1969. After receiving this singular distinction, then Captain Jacobs remained in the army for another 18 years and retired as a Colonel in 1987.



I knew Colonel Jacobs’ military biography, but I wanted, as a recently retired member of the military to try to get a better feel for him as a person. I did so by returning to Tuscany Bistro on the evening of January 11, 2009 where even though he was having dinner with family and friends, he graciously agreed to autograph copies of his book for people who came in with copies or who purchased them there. Instead of walking up to a table stacked high with books, Colonel Jacobs came to mine, introduced himself and sat with us to chat. Not a tall or big man, Jack Jacobs is also not pretentious. Like many recipients of “The Medal,” he is somewhat self-effacing and preferred to talk about the efforts at bone re-growth that is showing some remarkable strides and benefiting service members with debilitating wounds. He is supporting these efforts on behalf of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who, with less advanced medical treatment might face years as amputees. He was very passionate about this program and couldn’t say enough about it. He is working to raise funds for additional research and is encouraging the Veteran’s Administration to pursue this advanced program for servicemen and women wounded in combat.



After retiring from the army, Colonel Jacobs returned to his native New Jersey and began his business career. He proved to be as adept at business leadership as he had been as an army officer where he had commanded units from the platoon to brigade levels. He founded the Auto Finance Group and was a managing director for global investment at Banker’s Trust where he and his team grew that business area to $2.2 billion in revenues. Yes, this may sound like an official biography or the blurbs one reads in corporate annual reports, and I would hope that it is not taken that way because the recent meltdown of the American financial sector could leave one believing that Colonel Jacobs traded his soldier suit for a Brooks Brothers business suit in an attempt to make a lot of money, money sorely lacking during his 23 years as an army officer from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s.



I had the opportunity to meet a man now retired for almost as long as he served, but he still has that unmistakable military bearing. He speaks to you, not at you. He looks you in the eye and insures that he’s gotten your name right the first time. And he uses your first name. He introduced himself as “Jack Jacobs” and when I mentioned to him that my retirement became effective the day before (January 10th), his eyes lit up and a huge smile creased his face. He congratulated me on serving through a career that most Americans never even think to undertake and he, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, two Silver Star medals, three Bronze Stars medals with V device and two Purple Hearts thanked me for my twenty five years in uniform. It was the ultimate compliment and one sincerely delivered.



In the 7½ years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, millions of Americans have tuned in at one time or another to various news shows to hear the opining of retired senior officers from the army, navy and Marine Corps on the various military operations then underway. Some of these officers served in Vietnam and later in the first Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo and most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of these same paid military analysts disagreed vehemently with the now outgoing administration and said so. Retired army generals like John Batiste and Paul Eaton condemned the willful arrogance of former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld for his disdainful repudiation of sound military advice. Their service and subsequent retirements earned them the right to speak out.



In his book, IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Colonel Jacobs also shares his views on what we did wrong in Iraq. He should know, he spent his entire career in the infantry and his heroic actions were not limited to a single valorous act. His career, his candor and integrity are all a testament to his service and personal sacrifice on behalf of his country.



It was a genuine honor and privilege to meet this man who I’d read so much about. Our army and the nation are the better because men like Jack Jacobs have always stepped forward when they were needed. And on a day in March 1968, young Lieutenant Jacobs acted “with intrepidity and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty” and became a member of America’s pantheon of heroes.



Paul Connors is a Sr. Contributing Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at paulconnors@hotmail.com. Please send your feedback to dwfeedback@yahoo.com

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Re: An Unassuming Hero

Post by 'beer on Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:29 pm

FYI, it was I, iluvfreebeer who posted that. I'd logged out and just posted as a guest

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Re: An Unassuming Hero

Post by Remo on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:05 pm

'beer wrote:FYI, it was I, iluvfreebeer who posted that. I'd logged out and just posted as a guest

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Re: An Unassuming Hero

Post by NonConformist on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:54 pm

Remo wrote:
'beer wrote:FYI, it was I, iluvfreebeer who posted that. I'd logged out and just posted as a guest

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He probably couldnt half see it
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