Duffy delivers military's second highest honor to family of WWII vet from Maple
The frame memorializing the service of Staff Sgt. Aaron Jacobson was filled with medals, patches, a 1940s-era photograph of the Army infantryman and a blank space.
It’s a space that will be filled after U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., delivered the replacement for the medal earned Sept. 21, 1944 — the Distinguished Service Cross.
Duffy said Jacobson’s heroism that day saved a lot of American lives.
Jacobson was 32 when he joined the Army. As a private first class, earned the military’s second highest honor while serving with the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division.
According to a Stars and Stripes article, Jacobson’s squad was mopping up snipers when machine gun fire erupted from a cleverly disguised embankment, forcing the squad to hit the dirt.
“Jacobson, packing an M1 with a fixed bayonet, lifted his head up long enough to get a fix on the enemy position 20 yards up the embankment and took off,” Matt Ketola said, reading the Stars and Stripes article. “Hitting the hole in high gear, he stabbed the Nazi in one lunge, picked up the dead man’s Brummbar gun and killed the three others with one burst and was back on the road before most of his crew mates had missed him.”
Ketola, a friend of the family, worked with Jacobson’s nephew to recover the medal lost in a house fire in 1956.
For the first time in decades, Stanley Jacobson held the medal his uncle had earned in his hand.
“It means the world,” Stanley Jacobson said. He has been trying to recover the medal — a bucket list goal and one he thought he might not achieve — since 2005.
However, the project was not without challenges.
Ketola said Jacobson’s discharge records didn’t include the fact that he’d earned the Distinguished Service Cross, and correcting those records was hampered by a pair of fires. Jacobson’s medal and records were destroyed in a house fire that took the life of his brother, George, in 1956, and Jacobson’s own efforts to recover the medal were hampered by the 1973 fire in the National Record Center in St. Louis.
His nephew twice applied, unsuccessfully, since 2005 when Ketola joined the effort about four years ago. With the help of Duffy’s office, the National Archives and National Personnel Records Office, Stanley Jacobson and Ketola were able to get their case heard.
“They told us it would be six months to a year,” Ketola said. “Well 3½ years later, we heard back. It took a while, but we got it.”
And Duffy made the trip to Superior on Monday, June 17, to deliver not only the medal, but also a copy of Aaron Jacobson’s story as submitted into the Congressional Record on April 13.
He came from Maple and was a farmer, Duffy said. He did “amazing things in war” and came back to be a farmer and a logger, he said.
“Freedom has been secured by common men doing uncommon things, people that come from all walks of life,” Duffy said.