About this time of year, back in 1945, a hero's parade honoring a Port marine who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism on Iwo Jima took place. Cpl. Douglas Jacobson and his proud parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Jacobson who lived at 34 Marino Ave., at the time, led the parade which stepped off at the, then, Port Washington Senior High School and terminated at the Main Street School. Afterwards, the Jacobsons attended a dinner given at Manhasset Bay Yacht Club in Douglas' honor. Sadly, this brave man, who in a few short hours chalked up a list of war accomplishments surpassed by few --- and eventually became a major in the Marines, died at the age of 74 of congestive heart failure and pneumonia in Port Charlotte, Fla. on August 20.
A photo of Major Douglas Jacobson from the 50th Reunion Journal of the Classes of 1943-1946.
He lived in Port from his infancy until about a year after the war ended.
Jacobson, along with Alexander Troy (Truskowski) who fought in the Philippine Islands from 1942 to 1945 and died about four years ago, are the only two known Medal of Honor recipients from Port Washington
According to a Port News article from October 1945, the major attended Port Washington High School and at the age of 16 attempted to enlist in the U.S. Marines. He was told to go home and wait until he was a little older.
He tried again a year later, leaving early in the morning on the 6 o'clock train, unaccompanied, and this time he was successful in being accepted into the Marine Corps.
Entering the service at the age of 17 in January 1943, he took his boot training at Parris Island, S.C. and then went to Camp Lejeune, N.C. and later to further training.
Cpl. Jacobson of the Fourth Marine Division received the highest military honor conferred by his country. The citation for this one-man army, signed by former President Harry Truman, reads as follows:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Battalion, Twenty-third Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Island, 26, February 1945. Promptly destroying a stubborn 20-mm, antiaircraft gun and its crew after assuming the duties of a bazooka man who had been killed, Corporal Jacobson waged a relentless battle as his unit fought desperately toward the summit of Hill 382 in an effort to penetrate the heart of Japanese cross-island defenses. Employing his weapon with ready accuracy when his platoon was halted by overwhelming enemy on 26 February, he first destroyed two hostile machine-gun positions, then attacked a large blockhouse, completely neutralizing the fortification before dispatching the five-man crew of a second pillbox and exploding the installation with a terrific demolition's blast. Moving steadily forward, he wiped out an earth-covered rifle emplacement and, confronted by a cluster of similar emplacements which constituted the perimeter of enemy defenses in his assigned sector, fearlessly advanced, opened fire on a Japanese tank pouring a steady stream of bullets on one of our supporting tanks, and smashed the enemy tank's gun turret in a brief but furious action culminating in a single-handed assault against still another blockhouse and the subsequent neutralization of its fire power. By his dauntless skill and valor, Corporal Jacobson destroyed a total of 16 enemy positions and annihilated approximately 75 Japanese, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his division's operations against this fanatically defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His gallant conduct in the face of tremendous odds enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
He decided to become a Marine for good after two stretches as a civilian, one in 1946 and another from 1949-1952. He served in Korea and Vietnam before retiring from active duty as a major in 1967.
He married his second wife Joan in the early 60s. He and his family lived in New Jersey, where he practiced real estate, before moving to Florida in 1987. His first marriage to Port girl Edith Gurley, ended in divorce.
A 1944 classmate of Major Jacobson, longtime resident Ruth Seaman Needham, had some recollections about him. She told us that before he returned to Port Washington after the war, Jacobson had been casually offered a few different jobs. However, once he returned, no one followed through for him. She said, "This was unfortunate."
She recalled how he left the eleventh grade to enlist in the Marines. (He earned his general equivalency diploma for high school just before retiring.) "In 1994, our class dedicated its 50th reunion journal to him," she noted.
Besides his wife, he is survived by three daughters, Katherine Cheeseman and Joanne Jacobson of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Barbara Bernard of Lawrenceville, N.J.; and two granddaughters.
Military services were held in Punta Gorda, and interment with full military honors is scheduled for Oct. 27 at Arlington National Cemetery.