If you have ever been around during happy hour in the Woodlands, you are sure to have met resident Jack C. As he joyfully sings patriotic songs from his time in the Navy and raises a toast to those who sit around him, Jack’s kind smile and warm personality draw everybody in. At 102 years old, Jack always looks forward to meeting new people and sharing some of his amazing stories.
Jack was born in September 1919 in Andover, Massachusetts and grew up in a large family. During his childhood, Jack moved to New Hampshire where he found a love of skiing and playing football. After graduating from the Tilton School in New Hampshire, he attended the Naval Academy and graduated in 1942. Jack’s 22-year active-duty military career began just 12 days after Pearl Harbor. He was sent to the Pacific theater and eventually took part in the Battle of Midway.
In June of 1942, Jack was stationed on the USS Yorktown when he was alerted that the Japanese forces were on their way and a battle was imminent. The USS Yorktown was hit by three bombs, and then Jack was told to abandon ship. He jumped into the oil-covered water and within an hour was saved and pulled aboard the USS Russell, which to Jack’s surprise was captained by his old Naval Academy football coach. When asked about his experience at Midway, Jack stated, “I want people to know three things [about Midway]: the bravery of the men in battle, particularly the aviators, most of whom got shot down … the tactical brilliance and strategy … and of course, the intelligence,” Jack said. “Without that, we would have been dead pigeons … [they were] able to predict the precise place, the precise time and the precise distance [of the attack] … right on the button.”
After Midway and his time in the Pacific theater, Jack went on to attend MIT and earn his master’s degree in naval construction and engineering, while also serving as an Engineering Duty Officer at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. This set a path for Jack’s career in the Navy’s nuclear program. Jack continued his service to his country as a part of the Department of Energy and worked diligently to further the Navy’s atomic program.
Jack met his future wife Betty while walking through a train station, and true to his kind and caring personality, he offered to help her with her luggage. The pair married in 1953 at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, Connecticut. They raised four children together and were married for 61 years at the time of Betty’s passing in 2014.
Today, Jack can always be found chatting with fellow residents and staff at happy hour while sipping wine, watching the news and sports, and participating in Catholic services on campus. Recently, Jack was thrilled to be able to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery and place flowers on the tomb, a rare event that happened for the first time in 100 years. Jack continues to inspire and warm the hearts of each and every person who has the honor of getting to know him.