GAINESVILLE - National Defense Chairman Connie Tucker of the Col. William Candler Chapter DAR (Gainesville) announced recipients of the first two Distinguished Citizen Awards at the group's April meeting: N.A. Jacobs (U.S. Navy, Aviation) and Col. Bilton Vance, U.S. Army (Retired).
The Distinguished Citizens medal was recently established by the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution to recognize citizens who fulfill the qualities of honor, service, courage, leadership, and patriotism."
Jacobs flew cargo planes during World War II and his return trips often held litter patients - soldiers wounded in battle. He recalls flying many VIPs and even had Charles Lindbergh as a passenger on a flight. Jacobs described himself as a member of the "patriotic generation." He says he values his military service because he achieved the dream of being a pilot, traveled the world, met people, and completed his education.
Jacobs served in the Navy with the ranks of Ensign and Lieutenant JG. After receiving his degree in Architecture from Georgia Tech, he began teaching in the School of Landscape Design at the University of Georgia. He continued to serve in the Naval Reserve and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1950.
Jacobs moved his family to Gainesville in 1958. During his career he also served on the National Architectural Registration Board. Daily we see buildings he designed including Gainesville's 1960 courthouse, Gainesville State College (now a part of the University of North Georgia), area elementary, middle, and high schools and stadiums, the First Baptist Life Center, the Georgia Mountain Center (now Brenau Downtown Center), and buildings at Young Harris College, the University of North Georgia (Dahlonega campus), and the University of Georgia.
Jacobs donated his Aviator's Flight Log and portions of his Pilot's Handbook to the Veteran's History Project.
We've heard "Join the Navy and see the World" and in December, 1943, 15-year-old Bilton Vance reported to stations from the Great Lakes Training Center to Brown's shipyard in Houston, then San Diego and left on a troop ship for the Pacific. This young sailor became head quartermaster on a ship stationed in Okinawa before the World War II ended.
His initial commitment led to further service in the Naval Reserves, the Air Force, and both the Reserves and Regular Army.
His allegiance to duty may have begun during World War II but it continued in Korea, Vietnam, the Cuban and Belgian Congo crises, and the Cold War with stations in the Pacific, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the U.S.
Throughout his career, Col. Vance was recognized for his dedication and especially for volunteering to serve in difficult combat assignments - such as "command of the 501st Signal Battalion, 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam and of the Communications and Electronic Engineer agency in Thailand."
Vance, upon retiring with 30 years and SIX months of military service was selected, after extensive interviews and exams, from 34 candidates to become NATO's Telecommunications Engineer - Chief Project Officer in Brussels, Belgium.
During the time he worked with NATO, June 1976-August 1986, he consulted with individual NATO members in establishing communications operations.
Today, Col. Vance volunteers at the Northeast Georgia History Center and speaks at local schools about the importance of military service. He participated with the Veterans' History Project in April 2012, and his audio and video taped oral history, along with documentary materials, is now in the Library of Congress.