Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new series called Marching Orders in which central Ohio military veterans share their experiences of service in times of war.
Don Jakeway of Johnstown is a 95-year-old World War II U.S. Army veteran who was dropped behind enemy lines just prior to the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, as part of the elite 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.>> A new podcast series dedicated to central Ohio military veterans <<
His parachute landed in a tree next to a church in the middle of the night, with German fighters nearby and floodwaters below. The tree saved his life, and some in his unit were killed because of the high and rapid waters.
Jakeway enlisted in November 1942 and survived Normandy only to get shot in the lung during the Battle of the Bulge, which began in December 1944.
While being extracted, Jakeway's jeep hit a rough patch of road and flipped several times, landing at the bottom of the hill and killing everyone but him.
Jakeway remained in the Army until August 1945.
Staff Sgt. Jakeway has a pile of medals and honors, among them the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Infantry Badge and induction into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame. He has many more, and he has a street and some ball fields named after him in Johnstown.
Jakeway returned to Normandy for a visit in 2014 and saw the tree in which he had landed.
Jakeway was born and raised in Johnstown and graduated from Johnstown-Monroe High School in 1942.
He's married to Roselyn, and they have four adult children, several adult grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.
Now retired, Jakeway's post-military career included a stint at a Shell gas station, working for $25 a week.
He later worked for a steel company and a drinking-fountain supplier, retiring from Tech International in 1992.
Jakeway also is the author of "Paratroopers Do or Die!"
Jakeway's son, Kim Jakeway, joined him on ThisWeek's Marching Orders podcast.
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