Frank Robert Jakes
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army
As an officer assigned to psychological operations during the Vietnam War, Frank Jakes had the job of winning over the South Vietnamese people to the American cause. Often, that meant simply discovering their needs and meeting them.
To that end, Jakes, of Clearwater, Florida, formerly of Valencia, once arranged for a shipment of treadle-style sewing machines to be sent to the widows of South Vietnamese soldiers so they could earn their living.
Jakes died August 31, 2001 after a long battle with senile dementia. He was 71.
Jakes volunteered for three tours of duty in Vietnam and stood firmly in support of the military and its mission.
"That was a measure of his commitment," said his longtime friend, Bill Lehnerd of Butler.
Jakes was born in McKees Rocks, but the family moved to Butler County when he was still young. He was an only child, a bright and serious student. "He was not a rah-rah type of high school kid. He wasn't a frivolous kind of person," Lehnerd said.
Following his graduation from Butler Area Senior High School, Jakes attended the University of Pittsburgh on a scholarship to study chemistry. He was also a member of the ROTC program.
After graduation, Mr. Jakes entered the Army, married Ann Davis and embarked on a one-year tour of duty in Korea -- all in quick succession. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the artillery branch.
Numerous other posts followed, including three years in Baumholder, Germany, at the height of the Cold War.
Jakes and his wife later divorced.
Mr. Jakes volunteered for his first one-year tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965. He went back again in 1968 and fought in the Tet offensive. He was stationed in a town near the northern border of South Vietnam -- one of the first places invaded during the offensive. "He was in a jeep with an M-16 returning fire to get out of there," said his son, Frank Jakes Jr., of Tampa, Florida.
Jakes volunteered for a final one-year tour of duty in 1971.
During his second and third tours, Jakes was assigned to psychological operations. "It was basically propaganda. The purpose was to win the hearts and minds of the local population so they didn't support the insurgency," his son said.
Sometimes that was as mundane as passing out fliers to villagers. Often, the task took more finesse. In the midst of a guerrilla war, it was always dangerous. "It took him into areas where conflict was ongoing," his son said.
"He believed very fervently in the importance of protecting U.S. interests by not allowing the spread of communism."
Not surprisingly, Jakes despised the antiwar protests of the time. "He had no tolerance for that viewpoint and that thinking," his son said.
For his service to his country, Jakes was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and numerous other commendations.
After his retirement from the military, Jakes returned to Pitt, where he earned a master's degree in international relations in 1976. He retired in Valencia.
By the mid-80s, the first signs of Jakes' illness began to appear. In 1990, he moved to Florida to live with his daughter, Jean Ann Jakes.
Jakes also is survived by three grandchildren.
His family is planning a memorial service for
a later date. Jakes will be buried with full military honors October 1,
2001, in Arlington National Cemetery.
Posted: 11 July 2004 Updated: 22 December 2005