Profiles of Valor: Col. Jack and the Giant Killer
Two courageous giants among men…
“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” —Patrick Henry (1775)
Some days, we are blessed with events that speak boldly to the goodness of our community and country, especially as it regards those who have served with dignity and distinction: American veterans.
Last weekend, there were two in a row. Allow me to share some of that inspiration amid all the social and economic wreckage being strewn across our nation by the current political “leadership.” Although it may at times be obscured, the light of Liberty will never be extinguished.
First up, on Friday night at the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, MoH recipient Jack Jacobs (Col., USA, Ret.) addressed a group of dedicated American Patriots about the critical work the Heritage Center team is doing, particularly through our educational curriculum. The Heritage Center works in cooperation with the Medal of Honor Society (the association of recipients) to reach an ever larger number of young students with curriculum focusing on the character traits these humble warriors embody: courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, integrity, and commitment.
There have been 3,515 recipients since the first awards for the actions of Andrews’ Raiders in 1862 near Chattanooga — the birthplace of the Medal of Honor.
When Jack was awarded his medal “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” in Kien Phong Province, South Vietnam, on March 9, 1968, there were hundreds of other living recipients nationwide. Thus, there were many brave warriors able to share their inspirational stories with the next generation. These warriors could tell young Americans how they, and others with whom they served, defied death and overcame the most unimaginable of challenges. Indeed, they were fortunate enough to live to tell about it. Many others were not. But as I noted earlier this month, after four recipients were added to the MoH ranks, just 66 living recipients remain in a nation of some 330 million people.
These men are literally one in five million.
For that reason, Jack emphasized that the Heritage Center’s mission to extend the heroic message of past recipients is critical to the future of our nation:
Most recipients are gone now. We are a wasting asset, and if we are going to have any impact, what we did, and what all who served did, needs to be passed on to future generations. If we don’t do that, then all the efforts, all the sacrifices of all the people with whom we served, will be in vain. Education young people is the single most important thing we can do to influence our future. It is the only way we can reach into the future. I went to public school in New York at a time when we learned a lot from smart people, and we carried it with us. But education today is not what it used to be, and that is why all of us need to make a much larger effort to ensure that the histories of those who served and sacrificed, and everybody who built our great country, are not lost on future generations. If we don’t do that, our children and grandchildren will not like the results of our failure to carry that history forward.
Helping to stand up the Heritage Center has been a good fit and a deeply rewarding experience for me, given that its mission is much like that of The Patriot Post — extending Liberty to the next generation.
On Saturday night, we joined our friend Robert Dooley, Dean of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Rollins Business School, and fellow Heritage Center Trustee. The event was the graduation of those completing his team’s National Veterans’ Entrepreneurship Program — an initiative launched by Robert 10 years ago. He is tireless in his devotion to our nation’s veterans.
Robert and his wife Kim led a group of veterans back to Vietnam a few years ago, among them our friend and former POW Bill Gauntt, (Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.). You may recall a column of mine about the day they found Bill’s crash site, where his rear-seat weapons systems officer, 1st Lt. Francis W. Townsend, perished.
The VEP curriculum is designed specifically for vets who’ve served with honor and distinction. It provides them with valuable instruction and mentorship for launching their own businesses — with the objective of hiring other veterans. The graduates were a very impressive crew, despite the fact that there were no Marines in this class. (OK, I can hear those from the other service branches muttering under their breath, “That’s because there were no Marines in this class.”)
Sharing his time on Saturday as the VEP graduation keynote speaker, Jack Jacobs offered many memorable and encouraging words. And his record, both in military service and business, put him in high standing to address this group. After his retirement from active duty in 1987, having spent his last service years as a West Point instructor, Jack became an investment banker — and a very successful business leader — in his second career.
One key takeaway from Jack’s remarks was his assertion that many business leaders say they hire veterans because they feel a sense of obligation. He also noted that businesses should hire veterans because they make outstanding employees.
Jack never leaves a lectern without a reference to his diminutive stature. He tells some great self-effacing stories about his height, including an episode during his job as a military analyst for NBC when the producer convinced him that he needed to stand on a box next to his taller interviewer. That worked fine until the camera panned back and the whole nation could see Jack on a box!
He was 5'4" when graduating from Rutgers, but despite his years in Army ROTC, he did not meet the initial height requirements to become an officer. It was only when those requirements were reduced that he became a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. He went on to serve two tours in Vietnam as an advisor to infantry units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. I note that even the work of “advisors” was, and remains, very dangerous, as his Medal of Honor citation makes clear.
His physical stature aside, Jack Jacobs is a courageous giant among men.
In conversation with him, we talked about another Army officer, one who was renowned for his service and diminutive stature: Richard Flaherty.
Richard was only 4'9" and, like Jack, had to wait until recruiting standards for height were lowered in order to become an officer with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1968. He was the shortest Green Beret in the history of the service.
Richard’s life came to a tragic end as a homeless vet killed late at night on the streets of Miami. He is the subject of a documentary, “The Giant Killer,” based on a book by the same name.
If not for the author, Miami police officer David Yuzuk, who had often provided Richard meals and fellowship, his death would have gone unnoticed. It was only 10 days before his death that Flaherty told Yuzuk about his background. After Flaherty was killed, Yuzuk endeavored to verify the stories the small man who slept underneath the palm trees outside Publix told him. Subsequently, Yuzuk found there was much more to Richard’s story, including the fact that he earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star w/V, Bronze Star (3OLC), Purple Heart (1OLC), Air Medal, Gallantry Cross W/Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, 3 Overseas Bars, Sharpshooter Badge W/Rifle Bar, and Parachutist Badge among other awards listed on his DD214 military record.
Yuzuk wrote: “Every man’s life eventually comes to an end. It’s only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
Today, as millions of illegal aliens are allowed to flood across our open southern border at a cost to taxpayers of billions of dollars in housing and medical treatment, thousands of veterans remain on the streets, many like Richard, suffering from PTSD, with no such services.
And that is a national disgrace.
Friends: Please consider a designated gift to support the National Medal of Honor Sustaining Fund with your tax-deductible check payable to Liberty Fund (noting MoH Sustaining Fund on the memo line), and mail it to Patriot Foundation Trust, PO Box 407, Chattanooga, TN 37401-0407. If you know of someone who could be a substantial benefactor of the Heritage Center, please email me ([email protected]) through Patriot Foundation Trust. Visit the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center website.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
Join us in prayer for our nation’s Military Patriots standing in harm’s way, for our First Responders, and for their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic’s Founding Principle of Liberty, in order to ignite the fires of freedom in the hearts and minds of our countrymen. Thank you for supporting our nation’s premier online journal of Liberty.
The Patriot Post and our Patriot Foundation Trust are proud sponsors of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Folds of Honor, Honoring the Sacrifice, Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, the Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
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