MARYVILLE (WATE) – World War II veterans are passing at an increasing rate as their average age is roughly 91 years old. Officials in a local county are recording their history to make sure we don’t lose bits and pieces of their personal experiences while serving
There are just a few hundred World War II veterans still alive in Blount County. The first man to be highlighted in this video series was wounded in combat, earned a Purple Heart Medal and has a simply incredible story.
“They always called me Jake,” said U.S. Navy veteran George Jacobs.
Nearly 70-year-old memories are cherished in Jacobs’ ship book.
“I was assigned to USS Daly. It was a destroyer and it was the biggest ship I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” he said.
Jacobs, 89, is sharing his life not on paper, but through a lens.
“Time is not on our side and our World War II veterans are leaving us at a fast rate. This is an opportunity to catch their stories and honor them,” said Nathan Weinbaum with Blount County Veterans Affairs.
The video history project of sorts is cataloged by Blount County Records Management.
April 28, 1945 was a day Jacobs will never forget – the day when his ship was hit by a kamikaze. He remembers it flipping over the destroyer and hitting the side of the ship. Jacobs was a second loader of the ship’s gun and says his shipmate had just asked him to switch places. The change cost him his life.
“A doctor on board who had just come by and said ‘Give ’em hell boys.’ I had a life jacket on, my life jacket was torn to shreds and I didn’t even know I had been hit until I looked down and saw blood coming from my leg,” said Jacobs.
All of his and other World War II veterans’ stories are being captured so that we can never forget.
“I look back and say it was probably one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to us,” said Jacobs.
If you know a WWII veteran who would love to share his or her story, you can contact Blount County Records Management by calling (865) 380-4295 or Blount County Veterans Affairs at (865) 273-5760.
The videos are expected to be on Blount County’s website within the coming months.