“Papa” Jake Larsen was born December 20, 1922 in Hope, Minnesota. He joined the National Guard when he was 15; times were tough, and he needed the money. By the time Jake graduated high school, the war was underway in Europe and Asia, and the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour brought the United States into the fray. The units of the National Guard were folded into the army, and Jake and the men of Minnesota headed south to take part in the Louisiana Maneuvers. While there the now 18-year-old Jake was exposed to heat, humidity, and insects of every description. Shortly thereafter he fell ill with appendicitis, and was out of action for a while. He went home on a 1-month leave, and on return he was selected for HQ Company of the 135 Infantry, 34th Div. It was December 1941 by this time, and the attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything. Jake was dispatched to Fort Dix, N.J., and after a quick jaunt to New York City, he boarded the Aquitania and set off across the Atlantic, in a convoy bound for the war. Jake was stationed in Northern Ireland to begin, and transferred to V Corps, G3 section. How in a headquarters company, Jake began to assist in the planning process for Operation Overlord, or D-day. When the fateful day came – June 6, 1944 – Jake went ashore in the late morning, when the fighting on Omaha Beach was still raging. He managed to get to cross the beach and get behind the sea wall, and once the beach was secured he was tasked with setting up the operational command post. The beachhead established, Jake’s commanding officer decided to make the command post a 24-hour a day operation, and Jake was put in charge of the night shift. That continued through the rest of Normandy, and that became Jake’s permanent job, all the way into the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-45. As he had been overseas for three years by that point, Jake was given a 45-day furlough to go back to Minnesota, and as the end of the war was near, he was given a choice to go back or stay on the home front – Jake chose to stay in Minnesota! He met his future wife, and the two of them married in November 1945, going on to raise their family and find their way in postwar America. “Papa Jake” has become a viral sensation in recent years, with his Youtube and Tik Tok channels, and Crestwood students were lucky to zoom with him in August 2021.
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