Jon David “Jake” Jacobson, Gunner
17th SOS, Nha Trang, Tuy Hoa, and Phu Cat, 1969
I was born on October 12, 1949 in Berkeley, Alameda County, California. My wife is Charlotte Marie Jacobson.
I was inducted into the USAF on June 14, 1968 (the day after I graduated from high school) in Oakland, California. I felt then and still do feel that we, as Americans, have a duty to our country and that duty includes some type of service. I knew that I did not want to go to college after high school so I volunteered and enlisted.
I trained most of the time until I entered the Republic of Vietnam and was first assigned to a gun shop in Nha Trang in September of 1969. The Air Force had trained too many gunners for Spooky and this left a group of us in limbo. I finally got assigned to Shadow and the flying time began. I was 19 years old and starting to ask myself questions like: What the hell am I doing here? I had been stationed at McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas and I had been told I would be frozen there the rest of my enlistment. I had only been there three months and I decided that I would go nuts staying there for another 3 plus years. So, I ran down and put my name in for gunship duty as a gunner. I was from an area with pine trees, oceans, and mountains, so Wichita was not a place I wanted to spend the rest of my enlistment. Now, I was in a country without all those things and I could not wait to leave that place. You would think I was pretty finicky and you are right. I recently retired to the Big Island of Hawaii and I feel like I am finally home. It’s green, wet, wonderful and life is good.
After I returned from RVN I was stationed for one year at Luke AFB and one year at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. I worked as a member of the Lead Team for weapons loading certification for A7 type aircraft at D.M. When I was discharged in Tucson, I had been promoted to a Sergeant (E-4) and the final promotion I was looking for was civilian. I made it! After Honorable Discharge on June 13, 1972, I went to school and received an A.S. at Solano Community College (1975) and a B.S. in Biology at California State University Chico (1976). I later attended Heald Business College and received a degree in Accounting in 1985.
One story that I later felt was funny but, at the time was scary as hell, was the first night that a group of us had come into Vietnam. We arrived at the transit quarters in Nha Trang, found our bunks and had just gotten to sleep when all hell broke loose. We thought it was a rocket attack on the base so we hit the deck. We listened and then we could hear laughter coming from an area not too far from us. It had been an army artillery gun that a couple of G.I.s had fired on a hill to the east of the base. We found out later that these guys did that every night for the FNGs (Friendly New Guys). Right. It was funny after it happened and we all knew we had been tagged.
I have tried pretty much to forget most of the events of that year. Things like runaway props, Alpha alert, Bravo alert, Charlie alert, and other times are not as focused as they once had been. But, I have enjoyed the last thirty-six years of life and thank the men of Shadow for the chance at living a good life. I talk to my brother-in-law, Tony, from time to time about Vietnam because he thanks me for his life- well, Shadow anyway. One night in April of 1970, Shadow 45 was in the air when we received a call for troops in contact. I do not know if I was on that mission, but I would like to think that I saved my future brother-in-law’s life. He was in the U.S. Army and on the ground that night that Shadow 45 sent Charlie packing. We have always had the bond of brotherhood even prior to a formal introduction. Thanks for the opportunity to write a few words about me – Jake. Over and Out.