WWII service: 1943-1945
Jack was riding on a country road to a football game with friends when news broke of the Pearl Harbor attack. His life’s path would lead him straight into the war’s Pacific theater.
As a Navy sailor, Jack served aboard the USS Kitkun Bay, an aircraft carrier that withstood Japan’s torpedoes and kamikaze attacks, and participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf —WWII’s largest naval battle.
Taking orders and taking responsibility defined life with the ship’s crew of almost 900. “The biggest thing you learned is how to get along with all kinds of people.” When the war was finally over, Jack recalled sailors gleefully toasting in celebration with 180-proof grain alcohol that had been used onboard as torpedo fuel.
Long after the war — and after building and selling a food brokerage business — Jack dedicated himself to fundraising for an organization that takes WWII veterans to visit locations where they served. “Two guys found remnants of the fox holes they dug 70 years ago,” he recalled about visiting Belgium.
A powerful camaraderie grows among these travelers, Jack explained: “They get together at night and they get to talking. A lot of the guys have never told anybody what happened to them. They start to open up [with each other], and it’s like lifting a burden.”