Jacobus speaks at Veterans Day program
“Generally, introducing a military officer as a guest speaker, I’d read a biography of military duties, stations and awards; but I’m not doing that today — it’s not about what he wears on his shoulder,” said Sgt.1st Class (Retired) James Salts introducing Col. Todd Jacobus Sunday.
About 50 military veterans and 25 active duty Iowa National Guard members and families were honored Sunday at Fairfield’s annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by Fairfield’s American Legion Post 47 at Fairfield High School Auditorium.
When uniformed members of the 34th Army Band played a medley of military branch service anthems, one Marine stood; nine Navy personnel; eight Air Force; and 30 or more Army members and retirees.
“National Guard enlisted personnel normally serve in the same home unit for many years, but officers spend two-to-three years in a unit and rotate to gain leadership skills,” said Salts. “I was the 224th personnel sergeant for many years. I remember a new S-1 officer arrived. He proved to be a quick learner, a good student and smart. He’s had many jobs, but probably his most challenging was as commander of the 224th’s deployment to Iraq in 2005. And he earned the right to wear a Marine patch on his Army uniform for his support during that deployment. I was honored to serve with Col. Jacobus.”
Jacobus said if he was a good student it was because Salts had been a good teacher.
“I see lots of folks in the audience I served with,” Jacobus said. “This flag on the stage looks like it’s the same one that was in this school’s gym on the happiest day of my life, Dec. 17, 2005, when we returned home from Iraq.
“It’s a big flag, I’m sure it’s the same. And this is the same school. This place is a very special place for us. I’m very honored to be asked to come to Fairfield for Veterans Day,” said Jacobus. “This community is very supportive of veterans.”
He called attention to American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars support given to the community and mentioned a few veterans, retired, but still giving service to their country and community.
“Lane Bush enlisted in the 133rd June 15, 1948. He graduated high school in 1949 and served 43 years in the Iowa National Guard,” said Jacobus. “It was a privilege serving with Lane.
“Spc. Casey Hill is here, he deployed with us, and Alex Rebling also, and I believe he’s here today, playing in the band.
“Don ‘Mo’ Mosinski deployed with this unit in 1991 when we went to Germany in support of Desert Storm,” he said. “I learned his maternal grandfather was Jack Blough, a star athlete at Fairfield High School and Parsons College. Jack joined the Marine Corps and was on Iwo Jima — that rock in the Pacific. He retired from the National Guard, and as I understand it, he never spoke about the war. That’s a classic example of veterans of that era.
“I never knew Jack Blough, but I know his family, I know his legacy.
“Another World War II veteran in this community I only met in June and I’ve come to respect Jerry Yellin as much as any other man,” said Jacobus. “He was a fighter pilot and landed in Iwo Jima March 1945 in a P51 Mustang. I just read his book, “The Resilient Warrior,” and he talks about seeing mountains of dead Japanese at Iwo Jima, waiting for mass graves. He flew 19 long-range missions over Japan and returned to his home, New Jersey after the war. He struggled with what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and learned to deal with it through practicing Transcendental Meditation. He is helping veterans today through the Warrior Wellness program with the David Lynch Foundation.
“These are just a few stories of veterans from this community,” said Jacobus. “Jerry and Jack represent the man I want to be in my ninth decade.”
He mentioned the Lawson brothers from Fairfield, “three men who attained very high senior levels in the officer corps,” and said he’s come to know many long-serving members of the military from this community.
“Veterans Day is the day Americans step up and honor veterans, but veterans are ordinary people who at one time, raised their right hand and took an oath,” said Jacobus.
Jacobus related an anecdote of the 224th in Ramadi, Iraq.
“Our unit had route-clearing missions and in summer ’05, a buffalo mine-sweeper was driving the road with our guys,” he said. “It hit a mine or IED and this 76,000-pounds of machine was launched into the air. A huge hole was blasted in the road and that’s where the buffalo landed. Sewer water and oil began filling the hole from broken pipes under the street, but our mechanic jumped out of the vehicle and into that cesspool to help get others out. The 224th found bombs or mines every time it went out on a mine-clearing mission.
“Military strength isn’t all about tanks and weaponry, those things don’t win wars,” said Jacobus. “It’s people. We owe a debt of gratitude to people through the years.”
He shared a quote from George Washington: “If we want to know peace, we must be willing to fight.”
Also contributing to the program Sunday were Jan Hunerdosse singing the national anthem and “God Bless America;” the Rev. Art Sathoff giving an invocation and benediction; three FHS seniors, Jenna Nelson, Jonathan Swanson and Jacob Mineart who shared about their summer experiences at Girls and Boys State; and FHS principal Aaron Becker, giving a welcome.