U.S. Marine Corps   Korean War   Des Plaines, IL   Flight date: 08/08/18

By Jack Walsh, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interviews Volunteer

Herb Jacobsen began his life’s work at a very early age. When Herb was two years old, his parents moved from Chicago to Marengo. They had emigrated from Germany, and Herb was the only family member born in the U.S. “My father had a catering business and a butcher shop when I was younger, and I started working with him when I was in the fourth grade.” 

Herb graduated from Marengo High School in June 1950. At the time he was working on his family’s farm, but because his draft classification was 1A, he was worried about being drafted. So, in March 1951 he volunteered for the Marine Corps. He was inducted in Chicago and went by train to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA for Basic Training.

After basic, because of his cooking experience and test results, he was sent to Basic Cooking School at Camp Lejeune, NC. In addition to cooking, he also endured field training, slogging through the swamps because “everyone in the Marines is a rifleman.” Due to his high scores in cooking school, Herb was allowed to pick his station, and he chose Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, where he became part of 1st Marine Air Wing as a cook.

On his way to California he stopped home on leave. A friend insisted he go along to Lake Geneva, because he had met a girl who wouldn’t go out with him unless he brought along someone for her girlfriend. Thus, Herb met Dolores, who would be his future wife, on a blind date. During his deployment, he continued writing to Dolores, and they finally were married in June 1955.

 On his first deployment in El Toro, Herb met a Marine who had driven his motorcycle all the way from New York. Herb said, “I had some money saved at home and sent for $300 to buy myself an Indian motorcycle.” Shortly after he got it, he was driving a friend to Los Angeles when a woman pulled out in front of him. They were thrown off, and he hit her car hard enough that the big springs on the bike broke and went through her car. Miraculously, neither he nor his buddy were hurt. The only damage was a slight tear in his buddy’s pants. Fortunately for Herb, insurance covered the replacement of his motorcycle.

He was in El Toro for almost a year, before being sent to San Francisco, and then by ship to Hawaii. Assigned to temporary duty assignment (TAD) at a naval air station there, he stayed a short time while he waited for a group of fellow Marines to assemble. There were about a dozen Marines, of varying ranks, all assigned as specific replacements in the Pacific. They left Hawaii on a cargo plane, and the first stop was Midway Island, where they stayed a couple of days. As they flew in they saw many sunken remains from the Battle of Midway. At Midway, Herb remembers everyone having to watch out for the gooney birds because they would build nests in the jet exhausts. He also recalls a unique experience of going to a fish fry on the beach, where fishing was done with explosives thrown in the water.

 Next stop was Johnston Island AFB. Another couple of days were spent there, and then he traveled on to Guam for two days. “It was the rainy season, and you could hear the rain coming through the jungle. Everybody would put on a poncho and lift up their feet. There’d be a foot of water on the ground, and five minutes later, it would be gone, soaked in.” 

The final stop on this deployment was Japan. By now a sergeant, he was assigned as a cook to a Marine Air Base outside Osaka, Japan. On a couple of occasions, he worked a cargo flight into Korea, but his permanent duty station remained in Japan. After the Armistice was signed in July 1953, he went back to Camp Pendleton, and in March 1954 he was discharged from the Marines. While he was deployed, Herb had stored his Indian motorcycle, and when he went to pick it up, they wanted more for storage than the bike was worth! “I told them forget it. I never saw that bike again.” 

 Back home in the Chicago area he enrolled at the American Institute of Baking, taking advantage of the GI Bill. By living in the city, he could get a break on the tuition, so he moved in with his sister on Chicago’s North Side. After graduation, he went to work for Marshall Fields as a cooking supervisor. He really wanted to go to chef school, so he convinced Fields to teach him about baking bread. That shift started at 3 p.m. (bread for the next day), and he was able to go to chef school for two years from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., just in time for his 3p.m. shift. It was around this time that he and Dolores married, and before too long they had their first of four children. Herb stayed at Fields for 10 years.

Herb has had many interesting jobs in the food service business over the years. He left Fields to take an offer to open the new bakery at the University of Illinois Congress Circle campus (now called UIC). He worked for a while at O’Hare Airport, and he worked many years at the Long Grove Apple Haus, known for their brown-bag apple pies and doughnuts. Eventually, in 1997, he decided to retire. But that wasn’t to be. A nephew quickly drafted him to work at his restaurant, and since then he’s been employed at multiple jobs managing and cooking in the food industry.

He and Dolores owned a house in Des Plaines for over 30 years, where they raised their family: Steve, Carol, Linda and Kathleen. Finally retired and still living in Des Plaines, they support their church and are enjoying their life together.

Welcome home Herb Jacobsen! We share your pride in your service as a Marine. Thank you!