Remembering a Legend this Veterans Day [VIDEOS]
Growing up in Northern "small town" Oklahoma, most of us really knew our neighbors. Some more than others, some we knew through others, and there was always the small town gossip to fill us in on those we didn't know. One of those people who didn't fit into any of those categories was my friend Jake McNiece. Most everybody knew him as the nice old man at church that always had hard candy for us kids. Most adults knew he was a veteran who had served his country, but most had no idea on the details of it.
Most people that knew Jake were floored when he put his life down on paper, helping pen his military biography in the book we'll talk about later. Here's some of his story...
Jake served this country in World War II as a demolition saboteur combat paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He earned his merits blowing stuff up, fighting in some of the most gruesome conditions the world had seen, and raising all kinds of hell everywhere he went.
My friend Jake, along with his hell-raising young attitude, found his ultimate label while training in England prior to D-Day. Some hardcore shenanigans that eventually lead to him creating and commanding what was called "The Filthy Thirteen". Now that probably doesn't mean anything to you, most people have never heard of it, but the veil gets lifted when you throw out "It was what society and Hollywood called 'The Dirty Dozen" See, now you heard of them, sort of. They weren't criminals, murderers, thieves, ect... They were a group of unruly soldiers that knew how to get stuff done.
Jake made four combat jumps in Europe during his time. He jumped into France on D-Day. The Netherlands for Operation Market Garden. He jumped into Bastogne before the "Battle of the Bulge" started, and fought there until they ultimately beat the Germans back. And his fourth and final jump was into another bloody battle near Prum. Four combat jumps at a time when life expectancy for the 101st was one and a half. His final jump near Prum wasn't an assigned mission, but rather a volunteer only opportunity. The jump called for Pathfinders - (if you ever watched Band of Brothers, you know the weather was too bad to drop supplies, so they'd drop in Pathfinders to send radio signals for drops as opposed to popping smoke) Against the 30% survival rate of a volunteer pathfinder, he survived and help load his fellow troops up with gear for the Bulge.
Jake's story is an amazing one, and while we've hit just the tip of a colossal iceberg here, you can read it first hand - Click Here For The Book
Today is the day we not only honor those we know, but every single veteran worldwide. To those serving now, good luck and god speed. Keep calm and carry on.