Jacques was a truely remarkable man. He was a religious, hard working father of three lovely young daughters whom he and his devoted wife, Ollie, raised into fine upstanding young women.
By trade, Jacqeus was a farmer until 1957 when Hurricane Audry, after devestating the Louisiana coastline at Holly Beach, moved inland with still enough power to wipe out the crops that Jacques and his family had strived and work so hard for.
In later years, after losing his farm to the hurricane, Jacques became a carpenter. Much of his handiwork still exists around Acadiana in southwestern Louisiana.
Jacques also was a veteran of World War II.
He was a quiet man and seldom talked of his service to his beloved country.
And what service it was.
Jacques was an eye-witness to history.
Jacques served in the Army at the outbreak of the war. His duty station was at a little known place at the time...Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.Jacques was an anti-aircraft specialist and heavy truck driver while stationed at Schofield Barracks adjacent to Wheeler Field.
The morning of December 7, 1941, Jacques and his good friend Joe Lanclos were standing in the chow line awaiting their turn at a plate of pancakes -- one of his favorites.
Off in the distance, the men in the chow line saw a large formation of planes approaching. A little later, they were to learn the purpose of this formation of planes as they began their runs in on Wheeler Field, Shofield Barracks, and then on to the waiting ships in the harbor. The harbor was clearly visible from their vantage point.
The men in the chow line had little time to contemplate what was happening for as they stood spellbound by the armada of planes flying overhead at tree top level, all hell broke loose.
Jacques recalled of that event: "It was as if you could reach up and touch the belly of one of the planes which flew directly over the chow line". The picture was forever etched into his mind. He saw the pilot, with white scarf fluttering behind him, concentrating on something ahead of his plane, when momentairly, his machine guns began firing long bursts, sprouting up pieces of asphalt on the airfield adjacent to the chow line.
Then Jacques looked a little to the rear of the pilot and there behind the pilot, sat another Japanese airman. He had a big smile, from ear to ear and astoundedly, was waving merrily at the massed troops in the morning chow line.
Jacques was quickly brought back to reality as an explosion boomed a hundred yards away. This was from the bomb dropped by the same plane had been aimed at the armory. The local spies had done their homework.
This event and the subsequent events that happend from that moment on forever changed Jacques and made a deep lasting impression on him.
Yesterday, August 7, 2003, his daughter, my wife, and the family of Jacques Fuselier held services in his home town commemerating the passing of yet another WWII hero.
Prior to leaving for the church, a simple cermony was held by the local VFW unit. By the time the final salute of these comrads-in-arms was lowered, there was not a dry eye to be seen.
This same service had been perfomed time and time again with Jacques being one of the comrads-in-arms who would come to pay their respects to the family of yet, another fallen veteran. Jacques did this simple but moving duty up until the day he no longer could.
Now was his turn to receive this moving sendoff by his old comrads-in-arms.
At the grave site, a small family cemetery about 20 minutes drive from the church, a simple ceremony was once more enacted.
Two young soldiers from Ft. Polk, folded the flag -- draping Jacques casket -- into the traditional military triangle and then presented it to the grieving widow with a few quietly spoken words.
This was immediately followed by the sound of Taps played by three local high school students who had volunteered to honor a fallen veteran with their poignant notes of sorrow.
Jacques will be forever missed by his grieving wife, Ollie and his three daughters. He will also be sorely missed by the many folks who were forever touched by Jacques' easy going life style.
One who will miss him dearly is a grandson -- our son, and his wife, Jenn, who drove in from Dallas to pay their respect to not only a grandfather -- but, a friend.
Gabe spent many magical summers staying with his grandparents on their country farm learning and living the simple -- yet powerful -- values that Jacques and Ollie instilled into him.
Jacques was but a farmer, a carpenter and a citizen soldier. He lived his life as best he could and always was a true friend to anyone who needed a friend.
His passing will forever leave its mark on the family and friends who were fortunate enough to have been touched by his enduring spirit.
Jacques -- we will all miss you terribly.
My father fought in the Pacific as a Navel Marine in WW2. He was drafted just as he graduated high school and left shortly thereafter. He was based in Hawaii while getting ready for battle. The only battle he ever mentioned to me was the battle for Okinawa. He never really spoke of the war to my mother or his children. I convinced him to speak about it once for a school project.
The battle for Okinawa was the largest land air and sea battle in history and remains so today. The battle was the last major conflict during the war. Society never really understood the depth of the casualties or the cost of the battle because they never really had a chance to absorb it because the Atomic bombings came so soon after. I once had a tour of Normandy by some Coronels teaching military history at West Point and when I asked him to compare the battle for Okinawa with the Normandy invasion, his response was short, “Okinawa was much bloodier and devastating than Normandy”. However, the feat of Normandy should not be dismissed at all. It was a terrible battle with many deaths in a short period of time.
Here are some facts on Okinawa:
-Over 300,000 casualties in all
-38,000 US casualties with over 12,000 dead
-Over 107,000 Japanese soldiers were killed and ~7,400 were taken prisoner
-Over 150,000 indigenous of Okinawa were killed
-The battle lasted 82 days. From April 1st (Easter Sunday) until June 21st, 1945
-The US sunk the largest and most feared battle ship of the war, the Yamato
-The Japanese lost 16 ships and over 4,000 aircraft
-The US lost 36 ships, had 386 damaged and lost 763 aircraft
-The US had over 300 warships and 1,139 support ships around the island
-Over 60,000 US soldiers went ashore the first day
-163 out of the 196 Kamikaze planes were destroyed
-The battle was really the first battle where the Japanese superiors sanctioned the Kamikaze attacks
-More people died in this battle than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined
-The two highest ranking officers killed in WW2 were killed in this battle. Their names were General Mitsuri Ushijima and General Simon B. Buckner.
Here are a few things my father told me:
-He never forgave himself for what he did in the war. He was a religious man and I think killing, even in war, bothered him.
-He was in the first wave to land on the island on April 1st.
-He was injured in hand to hand combat with a bayonet to the face.
-He went weeks without changing his clothes, even his socks
-He spend a week in a mud filled fox hole
-He did not leave the island until July
This is more facts than story, but if you are not aware of the battle, you may want to read a book on it. It is an amazing story.
Read the Book Flags of our Fathers its a great story written by the son of a combat medic who was on Iwo Jima or watch Letters from Iwo jima