Thousands of Jews responded to America's call to arms to fight in Vietnam. Jack H. Jacobs was one of them. Jacobs entered the Army in 1966 as a lieutenant and served until 1987, when he retired as a colonel and a hero. Colonel Jacobs received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1969 for saving the lives of 12 soldiers and stopping an ambush of his unit in Vietnam.
It was on March 9, 1968, in the Province of Kien Phong, in the Republic of Vietnam, that Jacobs' actions in combat were beyond the call of duty and at the risk of his life. At the time, Jacobs was a first lieutenant serving as assistant battalion adviser, Second Battalion, 16th Infantry, 9th Army Infantry during an operation in the Kien Phong area. The Second Battalion was advancing to make contact with the enemy when it came under intense heavy machine gun and mortar fire from a Viet Cong battalion positioned in well-fortified bunkers. American casualties were high as they became disorganized. Jacobs was with the command element of the lead company. He called for and directed air strikes against the enemy positions so that the Americans could hope to regroup for a renewed attack.
The enemy continued to shower them with mortars and machine gun fire. Jacobs had to take command since the senior officers were either dead or seriously wounded. He had been wounded in the head by a mortar fragment and was bleeding profusely. His vision was impaired by the flow of blood from his head.
He saw a wounded man out in the open. Despite his wounds and poor vision, he went out to bring the man in under intense enemy fire. His administration of first aid saved a man's life. Jacobs then went out again to bring in the wounded company commander. He made repeated trips into the field to bring in the wounded and weapons while the enemy continued to rake the area with mortar and machine gun fire.
On three separate occasions, he contacted and drove off the enemy patrols that were looking for the allied wounded and weapons. Jacobs single-handedly killed three Viet Cong soldiers and wounded many more.
Jacob's Congressional Medal of Honor citation tells the rest of the story:
His gallant actions and extraordinary heroism saved the lives of one U.S. adviser and 13 allied soldiers. Through his efforts, the allied company was restored to an effective fighting unit and prevented defeat of the friendly forces by a strong and determined enemy. Jacobs, by his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action in the highest traditions of the military service, has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.Jacobs also received two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Heart Medals.
Jacobs is a resident of New Jersey and is involved with investment banking. He is designated as a brigadier general in the event of mobilization in the defense of his country. Jacobs is the sixteenth Jew to receive the Congressional Medal Honor. His heroism and gallantry in battle follows a long line of Jewish heroes who have given themselves to defend this country from its enemies.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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