In 1944, he was sent to war. Next month, NJ town celebrates his 100th birthday
JACKSON — A township World War II veteran will turn 100 years old next month and a parade and party are being planned in his honor, according to Jersey Coast Emergency News.
What is the celebration all about?
The “Wally Day Parade and Party” will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Jackson Justice Complex on 1 Jackson Drive in honor of Wally Jamison. His nephew, Matthew, is one of the police officers helping to organize the event, according to Mike Basso, with the Jackson Township Police Department.
The parade will travel down Bennetts Mills Road, and end at 54 Magnolia Drive, the site of the VFW Post 4703. Bands, honor guards, and scouts will be on hand to welcome and pay special tribute to Jamison, a pillar in the community for decades.
Following the drive-by parade, there will be live music, food, beverages, a ceremony, and a birthday party starting at noon, at the Jackson VFW Post 4703.
Who is Wally Jamison?
Wally Jamison was born on Feb. 22, 1923, to Viola and Harold Jamison in the Bennetts Hills section of Jackson. He had a sister, Florence, and a brother, Richard.
He was married twice, in 1942 and again in 1982. Jamison has five children: Linda, JuneAnn, Stephen, Marc, and Dawn; 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
On May 6, 1937, when Jamison was just 14 years old, he witnesses a significant piece of history: the burning of the Hindenburg landing at Lakehurst Naval Base.
Before serving, Jamison worked as a civilian in the maintenance department at Fort Dix from 1942 to 1943.
Then, in 1943, at 20 years old, Jamison enlisted in the U.S. Army.
In 1944, Jamison landed on Omaha Beach and fought throughout France during the war. He was injured on Nov. 29 during the Battle of Metz (which lasted from September through December 1944), according to the Facebook event page.
He was taken to England for a short period before returning to the U.S.
Jamison was transferred to Ashford General Hospital in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia to recuperate for five months until mid-June 1945 when he was discharged at 100%.
He earned several commendations during his service including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and several medals from the French government including the French Croix de Guerre (comparable to the American Medal of Honor).
What happened after WWII?
After the war, Jamison returned to Jackson, where he was born and raised, to do as much as he could to stay active and help his community.
From 1945 to 1989, Jamison spent 45 years working for the Ocean County Road Department, Basso said. He worked his way up from truck driver to general foreman in charge of the northern section of the county. Jamison was also in charge of the bridge and transportation departments.
He also worked for two years with Jackson Township as director of the Police Department and the Road Department.
Jamison was a Jackson school board member, a Boy Scouts leader, and a volunteer firefighter, and worked for the state forest fire service.
He was also the founding member of the Cassville Fire Co. (1939), the Jackson VFW Post 4703 (1945), and the Ocean County Military Order of The Purple Heart Chapter 36 (1989).
Jamison is not only a war hero but a hero in his hometown.
Basso said in 1962, Jamison came upon a house fire and found a distraught mother inside. He bravely went into the burning house to save two children and upon exiting, he also came upon an unconscious police officer and dragged him out to safety, earning the Medal of Valor from the Cassville Fire Department.
In 1963, Jamison saved a good Samaritan named Larry St. Laurent, who was helping the fire department during major forest fires that encompassed the whole county. When they became trapped by the fire, St. Laurent suffered panic and hyperventilation. It was Jamison who got him to safety.
In 1992, Jamison was inducted into the Jackson High School Hall of Fame.
Many people may not know this but Jamison volunteered as an extra in a documentary film to honor his great-grandfather, Ellison Jamison, for his service in the Civil War. That documentary is currently being shown at the Monmouth Battlefield.
In 1995, he also wrote the following inscription for both the Ocean and Monmouth County Purple Heart Memorials:
“They bled for liberty, selflessly serving their country. They are true patriots, whose boundless heroism has kept us free.”
In 2011, Jamison was also inducted into the Jackson High School ROTC Hall of Fame.
Jamison’s family is also heavily involved in the emergency services including the fire and police departments, Basso said.
Now, that he is turning 100, the town of Jackson is eager to celebrate the life of this remarkable man and his years of service to our country and the community.
Anyone with classic cars, motorcycles, or who wants to simply support a veteran turning 100 is being asked to come out and take part in this milestone event. Bands, honor guards, and all vehicle groups are welcome.
“It’s hard to estimate how many people will be attending, but I’m hoping for over 1,000 between the parade route and the after-party at the VFW,” Basso said.