My Uncles plus my Grandparents

My mother had four brothers: Graham, Cassel, Alden and Newell. All four of them were officers in the United States Military during World War II. However, only two saw heavy combat. My uncle, Newell Jacobson, was a liaison officer in the Tank Corps in the Battle of the Bulge and in the final campaign into Germany. He was one of the only members of his group who were not killed in the Battle of the Bulge, which was Hitler's last major counter-offensive. The reason so many liaison officers were killed in that battle was that their duties involved carrying messages between command posts which, during the Battle of the Bulge, involved crossing enemy lines.

Newell Jacobson was not in the Normandy Invasion, but his unit caught up with and joined the military campaign half-way through France.

I have a letter Newell wrote home from England just before the Normandy Invasion. He said that he was hoping to be released from the Army and to be sent home soon. Little did he know that he was about to embark on the major campaign of his life.

Newell Jacobson was awarded the Purple Heart for a minor wound he sustained during the campaign into Germany. He also received credit for capturing 27 German soldiers, but says that they jumped up from behind rocks with their hands up, knowing that the war was lost. The first Germans Newell captured told him that they knew of other Germans who also wanted to surrender. Then, with his permission, they called out to their colleagues to come out with their hands up. As a result, Newell and his just one partner led a column of 27 captured German soldiers back to camp. The partner was later killed in the war, however.
My uncles plus my grandparents

Newell often told me about one incident in which the American and German lines were facing each other across a no-man's land. There was an object lying on the ground between the two forces. It was extremely important that this object be recovered. It was Newell's assignment to pick up this object and bring it back.

He knew that if he ran out as fast as he could, picked it up, and ran back with it, the German sharpshooters would shoot him for sure.

Therefore, Newell walked slowly into the no-man's land, picked up the object, and slowly walked back with it. None of the German soldiers shot at him.

Newell had one big complaint about the conduct of that war. He said that his forces had won the war and could have marched into Berlin, but General Eisenhower, who, according to Newell, had "never heard a shot fired in anger" during the entire war or indeed during his entire military career, told them to wait for the Russians to arrive, so they had to sit and wait for two weeks for the Russians to get there. This was, of course, because of the Yalta Agreements between Roosevelt and Stalin to divide Berlin.

My uncle, Alden Jacobson, was a B-29 bomber pilot in the Air Force and flew at least 30 bombing missions over Japan. He flew in the 99th squadron, Ninth Bomb Group, 313th Wing. He was in one of the support aircraft when he saw the Atomic Bomb drop on Nagasaki. Alden Jacobson saw the mushroom cloud go up. Alden has always felt confident that dropping the A-Bomb on Japan was absolutely the right thing to do. He later lived for years in Japan as a member of the occupation forces. One of his sons was born there.

My Uncle Alden was not the pilot of the plane which dropped THE BOMB. He was in one of the support aircraft. On this particular mission, he was not the actual pilot of the airplane he was in. He says that he signed on for this mission because he needed to get in a few more combat flights to complete his tour of duty. He says that the other members of his regular crew were unhappy that he did this, because they thought that they should all stay together as a unit. By flying on this mission, he would get to go home one flight earlier than the rest of his crew.

Alden and Newell stayed in the military after the war. Newell fought in the Korean War, but was not on the front lines as he had been during World War II. Newell was stationed in Korea for years after that war. Newell studied the Korean language while in Korea, just as he had studied the German language during the military campaign across Germany. This is why he had known how to talk German to the German soldiers when they had wanted to surrender.

Both Alden and Newell became career military officers who retired after 20 years of active service. Newell died in 1989. Alden died on 16 November 2001.

Cassel Jacobson served in Iran and Bahrain during World War II but never saw actual combat. Graham Jacobson, while an officer, stayed stateside during the war. Cassel died on 7 December 2001. Graham died in 1997.

I have read a newspaper article which said that these four brothers were unique in that they were the only instance of four brothers all being military officers during World War II. However, I do not know if they were unique for Iowa, or for the entire United States Military or for all forces (including Russian, German, British, Italian and Japanese) combined.

I find it noteworthy that the new movie "Saving Private Ryan" is a story about four Iowa brothers fighting in World War Two. My uncles were probably the only instance of four Iowa brothers all fighting in that war. However, there the similarity ends, because my uncles all survived the war, and they were all officers, not privates.

In the photo, my grandmother, Mary Graham Jacobson, is standing center. To her right is my grandfather, Wesley Jacobson. Seated are my aunt, Jeanette Jacobson, to the far left and my mother, Helen Marjorie Jacobson, to the far right. My mother was the eldest of six children. Next to my mother is Graham Jacobson, her eldest brother. There exist three other brothers, Cassel, Alden and Newell Jacobson, in that order, but I am not exactly sure who the other two men in the photo are. However, I believe that is Newell standing to the left. I believe that the person seated second to the left between Jeanette and Graham is Alden Jacobson. Cassel Jacobson may have taken the picture.

Wesley and Mary Jacobson had six children within a space of eight years. The eldest was my mother, born on March 17, 1910. After that, came Graham, Cassel, Jeanette, Alden and Newell. Newell, the youngest, was born on June 7, 1918.

The Social Security Death Index gives the following:

NameBornDiedResidenceLast BenefitSSNIssuing StateIssued
WESLEY JACOBSON 16 Nov 1877 Aug 1963(No Location Given) (No Location Given)483-03-1249IowaBefore 1951
JEANETTE JACOBSON 24 Oct 1914 Jan 1989 90807 (Long Beach, Los Angeles, CA) (No Location Given)478-30-9836 IowaBefore 1951
NEWELL JACOBSON 7 Jun 1918 25 Apr 1989 33033 (Homestead, Dade, FL) (No Location Given)478-12-2012 IowaBefore 1951
GRAHAM JACOBSON 16 Jun 1911 31 May 1997 50613 (Cedar Falls, Black Hawk, IA) (No Location Given) 484-28-5897 IowaBefore 1951

On my father's side, my uncle, Edward Sloan, was in the Marine Corps and fought in the invasion of Iwo Jima. Altogether, three of my uncles were involved in heavy combat during the Second World War.

Sam Sloan

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