Celebration Honors WWII Vet’s 100th Birthday

Marge and Wally Jamison join members of their family and many friends at a special celebration for Wally’s 100th birthday. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – “They bled for liberty, selflessly serving their country. They are true patriots whose boundless heroism has kept us free!” That was the motto of Wally Jamison. He also lived those words.

  “He wrote that,” his wife Marge Jamison said as the quote was referenced in one of two speeches. She sat beside Wally and members of her family listening to speakers during a ceremony that preceded his 100th birthday party held inside the Jackson VFW Post 4703.

  Jamison was part of the mainland landing at Omaha Beach France and on November 29, 1944 he was wounded in combat and later when he was transported to a field hospital the plane he was riding in hit a fuel tank in the roadway causing the wing of the aircraft to be ripped off.

  Hundreds of people came out to cheer on the World War II veteran. The community wanted to make sure he had a memorable centennial birthday and that mission was clearly accomplished.

He had a special day named after him, a parade and one heck of a party with friends and family at the VFW hall.

Wally Jamison accepts a coin from one of several motorcycle clubs that were part of his parade that led to a huge gathering to celebrate his 100th birthday. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Wally Day kicked off with a parade that served to honor the longtime Jackson resident who was wounded during his service in World War II.

  His son Steven watched the vehicle count grow and shared with The Jackson Times, a bit of unknown knowledge about his popular dad.

  “There are too many stories to tell. We’ve lived in Jackson all our life. It was very rural when we were kids. Everybody was somebody’s relative. Before we were born he worked for moonshiners. When he was a young kid he was a look out. They had a chair out by the road and they ran a doorbell from the road back to where the still was. They told him, you sit there and if you see the state police coming or the game warden, you ring that bell and you run like hell,” Steven Jamison said.

  “So that’s what he did. He lived in Cassville and he would walk through the woods from Cassville almost to Ridgeway Liquors and pick teaberries in the woods. He would sell them to the moonshiners and they would put that in their moonshine to give it a little taste. I think he got 25 cents or 50 cents and that was quite a bit of money at that time,” his son added.

  His son added that Jamison was a member of the Seven Buck Gun Club. “The gun club when we were young was big part of your life here. He belonged to the gun club for a long time. It wasn’t like sporting it was a way to put food on the table actually.”

Jackson Mayor Michael Reina speaks about the life and accomplishments of World War II veteran Wally Jamison. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “He worked for the Ocean County Road Department for 45 years,” Steven Jamison said.

  As for Wally’s children, “he has the four of us and a stepdaughter. Most of us and some cousins are here today,” he added. Jamison has 11 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren 

  Wally just chuckled when asked about his secret of longevity. His wife remarked, “he doesn’t always talk. If you needed a husband, you would want one like Wally. We’ve never had a fight and we’ve been married for 40 years.”

  She added, “he is a wonderful, wonderful man and it isn’t just me or members of his family saying it, it is everybody who has worked with him or knows him.”

  “He was also in the movies. They did a movie honoring his great grandfather Elison Jamison. Elison went into the service in the New Jersey 14th Volunteers and was 43 years old when he went into the service. He lost two of his sons in the war and he is buried in Cassville. We got to be extras in the filming,” she added

  They met at work. “We were part of the office on aging and he started in 1977 and he became our boss in ‘78. He was one of those people who could make anything happen. He got all his fellow veterans to give us their charter so they could apply for vehicles from the federal government through the state to get veterans free of charge to utilize the facilities and that was back in ‘78,” she said.

  Jamison’s son Mark said of his dad, “when I went to college in the early ‘70s, I came home for a couple of summers but I really haven’t lived here so I’ve lived vicariously through everyone who is here. We used to go hunting and we had a property that had a couple of cranberry bogs and we fished over there. We did a lot of outdoor activities.”

Area antique car collectors brought out their vintage vehicles to the Wally Day Parade in Jackson Township. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “He founded the VFW and the Cassville Fire Company,” Marge Jamison added. “He is also a charter member of the Ocean County Purple Hearts and the State Purple Hearts.”

  Police Chief Matthew Kunz said “the PBA did a great job putting this together and one of our officers, Matt Jamison is Wally’s great nephew. My wife has a long relationship with the Jamisons from their work and history with the township.”

  The parade consisted of various police/fire/emergency vehicles, motorcycles, military vehicles and classic cars. Wally was able to see a matching contingent of the parade including police and veteran honor guards, pipe bands, high school bands and others who were present to cheer him on.

  Along the parade route on Bennetts Mills Road, were Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who lined up the roadway as well as fire trucks displaying American flags. The parade concluded around noon at the 54 Magnolia Drive headquarters of the Jackson VFW Post.

  That is when the party started. It featured food, beverages, music by a live band, and a ceremony.

  Mike Basso, who was one of the key coordinators of the event, told The Jackson Times, “This event is a joint effort being coordinated by Jackson PBA 168 and Jackson VFW Post 4703. Wally is a national treasure and true American hero who deserves the best 100th birthday party possible.”

  “With such an impressive resume, I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t made a movie about him yet,” Basso added.

  Outside the VFW with a large American flag flying in the wind hoisted from a Cassville fire truck was a large crowd waiting for Wally and his family. Jackson Police Officer Michael DeBlasi served as master of ceremonies introducing several speakers at the outside bandstand podium, Mayor Michael Reina, 12th District Senator Samuel Thompson, Colonel Mitch Wisniewski, Command Sgt. Major Jimmy Vanzlike, Brigadier General Thomas Evans and the commander of the VFW Post, TJ Crennan.

Motorcycle clubs joined the military vehicles and antique cars for Wally Jamison’s parade. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  DeBlasi said Jamison served his community for two years as director of the Jackson Police Department, served time on the Jackson School Board and he received honors as well from the French government as part of the United States role in liberating France.

  “It was a great honor to be able to speak about such a legendary man. The Ocean County Board of Commissioners provided a plaque in honor of Jamison’s birthday and thanking him for his time in the service,” DeBlasi said.

  “As mayor it is not only a pleasure but an honor to be here for a great man and I want to thank you all for coming out in celebrating a great man. Wally, all these people are here and all we can say is thank you very much and congratulations,” Mayor Michael Reina said.

  Sen. Thompson reviewed Jamison’s many accomplishments. “I have a joint legislative resolution from the State Senate and General Assembly. We are pleased to honor and salute Wally Jamison on the occasion of his 100th birthday on Feb. 22, 2023.”

  “He served with honor and valor during World War II as part of the United States Army landing with his platoon on Omaha Beach in 1944 and courageously fighting throughout France. He sustained an injury during the Battle of Metz. Upon returning home he enjoyed an exemplary career with the Ocean County Road Department.”

  The Senator noted in the resolution that Jamison had been honored by the Cassville Fire Company in 1962 for the rescue of two children and an unconscious police officer, trapped in a burning house. “A year later he once again demonstrated remarkable courage coming to the aid of a good Samaritan overcome by panic and hyperventilation during a large forest fire.”

  Brig. Gen. Evans said, “you are a true iron man, an iron man for life. Many times over, you are a true hero.”

  The band Kickin Wing started performing at the Post following the ceremony. Jackson VFW member Brandi Jarmolowich coordinated the after party. She was also the coordinator of his Aug. 24, 2014 dedication of Magnolia Drive. That event involved the co-naming of that road after Jamison. He was there with his wife and his granddaughter Christine Albino.

  “There is a lot to say when it comes to Wally. He lights up a room when he enters it. He is a very special man. Any time spent with Wally is special but the times that he sits with us and tell us exactly what he has gone through in the war, really sticks out,” Jarmolowich said. “Wally tells the stories so vividly it sends chills done your body. To have gone through what he has and still be able to give yet even more of himself to everyone is beyond amazing.”

  “Wally has always been so involved with our community. I feel like there is nothing he hasn’t done or helped with,” she added. She said his family has lived in Jackson since the 1700s.