Veteran Jack Wolff wouldn’t trade his veteran’s life for anything

OKEECHOBEE — Jack Wolff always said his time in the service was kind of fun in a way. Born and raised in Okeechobee, Mr. Wolff graduated in 1944. Two weeks after he graduated, his mother passed away, and two weeks after that he was in the Army.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.
Veteran Jack Wolff returns to visit the place he served during WWII. “It hadn’t changed a bit,” he said.

He said he wanted to join the Navy, but because he was colorblind he knew they wouldn’t take him so he went ahead and joined the Army when he realized he was about to be drafted. He went to Camp Blanding in Augusta, Ga. for basic training, and after basic training he went to Texas for two weeks for more training. Next they sent him to Oregon where he was put on a destroyer bound for Hawaii. That took about two weeks too, he said. “Seemed like everything took two weeks back then.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.
Jack Wolff and his wife Opal visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

From there he went to Japan where he had several different jobs. He spent some time as the mail clerk. That was a very popular job, he said. Everyone was always looking for the mail. For a while, he played the saxophone in a dance band, and he moved prisoners around to different cities.

He remembers his first night on the beach in Japan. They just got off the destroyer and slept on the beach in sleeping bags, and he remembers warehouses full of weapons taken off the prisoners. They were there to keep things under control, he said. No shots were fired while he was there.

He came home in 1946 and two weeks later, he was hurt on the farm. He hurt his ankle, and his dad said, “Son you can’t really work on the farm on crutches so I’m going to send you to college.” So, they sent him to Florida State. He was up there a couple of years and studied piano and singing. His mother was from Quincy, Fla. and went to school there when it was Florida State College for Women, and that’s why he went there, he said.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.
Veteran Jack Wolff’s father, J.O. Wolff (pictured), served as a medic during WWI.

When he completed his two years there, he went for two years to Gainesville and then came home to the farm around 1950. They had a farm with beef cattle and a drug store — Park Drug Company — at the end of Wolf Road. They also got into the orange grove business, he said. It’s been a fun life.

When he left to go off to the service, there were only about 3,000 people in Okeechobee. So, it was pretty different going to Japan, but he wouldn’t trade his veteran’s life for anything, he said. You learn a lot. You learn discipline and a lot of young people today need that, he said. He believes it ought to be compulsory to have two years in the service after high school unless you already know what you’re going to do with your life.

One of his favorite things about Japan was visiting Kyoto. It was a beautiful city, he said. After he returned home he married Opal in 1959. They will celebrate 60 years of marriage in December. They have two children, one boy and one girl, and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Wolff’s father was J.O. Wolff. He was a medic during WWI. When he came home from the war, he got his pharmacy degree and then married his wife on a blind date.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.
This letter was written from Japan by Veteran Jack Wolff to his father, J.O. Wolff, in Okeechobee.
Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.
The Wolff family saved this letter, written while Jack Wolff was serving in the Army during WWII, for almost 75 years.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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