EDITOR’S NOTE: To suggest a veteran for this series, which runs weekly until Veterans Day, email Metro editor Marly Reichert at [email protected] .
JACKSON – “Semper Fi” certainly isn’t just a popular catchphrase or harsh-sounding motto for Ken Jakubec, who served in the Marine Corps Air Wing from 1964 to 1968.
Literally translated, “Semper Fi” means “Always Faithful”. However, for Jakubec, it means even more.
This is a serious statement conveying a lifetime of dedication and a deep and enduring commitment to protecting America and its allies.
“We take the oath seriously,” he said.
And this commitment lasts from their initiation to training camp (that of Jakubec lasted three weeks) until the day of their retirement and beyond.
Jakubec, 75, said becoming a Marine by enlisting in 1964 really enriched his life.
According to him, “The Marines taught me the most important life lessons, especially how to give back.”
Originally from Austintown and graduating from Austintown Fitch in 1964, it was a jaunt to the nation’s capital to train in the era that ultimately changed his life forever.
“That’s where I met Lena,” he said of his wife, who died of a heart attack last year.
His job as a cryptographer in the days of Vietnam, when he wasn’t repairing hydraulics on planes and helicopters, kept him busy. Jakubec was part of an elite group of qualified aircraft maintenance engineers (AMTs).
They are responsible for performing repairs and preventive and routine maintenance on all types of aircraft and helicopters. They receive special training to do this, based on the extensive testing process that all Marines must undergo to be selected for certain types of tasks.
In fact, Jakubec showed such promise and talent that he was selected as one of the revered and elite crew members of Marine One Helicopter Squadron under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
And while he was clearly sharp as a tack, up for the challenge and patriotic as always, he was lacking in another area.
“I had to gain weight to get them to let me in!” he says now of his small youthful build.
It took a while, but over time he was able to add lean marine muscle – around 30 lbs.
He eventually rose to the rank of Sergeant E-5.
A long-time community volunteer, Jakubec particularly enjoys helping the March of Dimes and Toys for Tots organizations.
In 2020, Jakubec was named Official of the Year by the National Athletics Federation. That’s because he was an Ohio High School Athletic Association official for 31 years and was a district-level umpire or clerk for 28 years. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Track and Cross-Country Coaches Association in 1993, as well as the Fred Dafler Sportsmanship Award in 1996 and the Austintown Coaches Appreciation Award in 1982 and 1987.
Jakubec served on the Austintown School Board for a total of 20 years (two separate terms) and worked at Lordstown General Motors for 36 years. He is an administrator for the township of Jackson.
AGE: 75 years old
RESIDENCE: Township of Jackson
BRANCH OF SERVICE: Marine Corps
MILITARY HONOURS: Presidential Service Award; inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame in 2020; 2015 Marine Corps League Meritorious Service Award; Veteran of the Year by the United Veterans Council of Youngstown in 2016.
OCCUPATION: Retired from Lordstown General Motors after 36 years
FAMILY: Married of nearly 53 years, Lena (deceased); son, Ken; daughter, Kimberly Lewis; and two granddaughters