Valley families remember those who served
Carson Valley residents described how relatives now in Garden Cemetery served their country on Veterans Day.
It was a day of two senators, with Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, describing his father’s service in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam and Minden resident Bruce Jacobsen talking about his father’s service in the U.S. Navy
Born July 1, 1921, Lawrence “Jake” Jacobsen was the youngest of five boys.
When he graduated from Douglas County High School in 1938 at 17 years old he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
His mother refused to sign the papers, so his older brother Melvin signed on behalf of his father, who’d died a dozen years earlier.
Jacobsen went to Navy aviation school and was sent to the Philippines where he worked on aircraft.
He went to sea aboard the carrier Yorktown and then volunteered for duty on the heavy cruiser Astoria, which had four floatplanes.
One of Jake’s favorite stories about shipboard life was one inspection.
“He shined his shoes, trying every trick he knew to make them look like new,” Bruce said. “The following day the ship’s captain held inspection and when he got to dad, he took his heel and ground it into the toe of dad’s shoe and said ‘Sailor, those shoes are too shiny.’”
On Dec. 6, 1941, the Astoria was returning to Hawaii after escorting the Lexington transporting aircraft to Midway.
The ship launched its planes and Jake spent that night in a hangar on Ford Island.
Bruce said he wouldn’t talk about what happened at Pearl Harbor, but would answer questions.
“I asked him what he did during the raid, half expecting a heroic answer, ‘we ran like hell was his reply.’ I don’t think that any of us can truly appreciate what these men went through at Pearl Harbor,” Jacobsen said. “My dad would have been 20 years old.”
One of Jake’s duties aboard ship was to pull the lanyard that released bodies for burial at sea.
The Astoria was at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, among several others.
Her last fight was the Battle of Salvo Island, a night battle where the Japanese attacked a convoy of Marines headed to Guadalcanal.
“Astoria was attacked unmercifully, with many sailors blown into shark-infested waters,” Bruce said. “It fought valiantly but was sunk later that morning.”
Its complement was in the water for hours before being rescued. The Astoria took 65 hits in that battle before she sank.
Arnold Settelmeyer was in the Air Guard, where he worked in Reno on Air Force 2 a couple of times.
Then the Pueblo crisis occurred and Settelmeyer ended up in the active duty Air Force.
“He was on the boat to Vietnam and said you could just about see it, when the ship turned around and came home,” he said.
Catherine Sarratea talked about her father Mitchel Oxoby’s service in the Seabees in North Africa and her mother Marcella’s service in the Civil Air Patrol at Minden-Tahoe Airport.
Michelle Leonis talked about the World War I service of John Brown and World War I nurse Elizabeth “Mack” Brown.
Eric Rieman talked about his father John’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
The Garden Cemetery tour was on Veterans Day to raise money to participate in Wreaths Across America, which will put wreaths on veterans graves.
There are more than 200 veterans at the Garden Cemetery.
For information, contact Shannon Hickey at 775-315-0697.