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WE'VE LOST ANOTHER GREAT PATRIOT!!

WE'VE LOST ANOTHER GREAT PATRIOT!!

-----It is with a heavy heart, that I tell you our very dear friend Jack Staehle passed away on Thursday December 29th, 2016. Many of you knew Jack, but just in case you did not, I am going to tell you about him.
 
My pal Jack Staehle  embodied all of the qualities I look for in a man. He was fiercely loyal, a true Patriot, a stubborn son-of-a bitch and a lifelong collector. 
Jack was born Johann Jakob Staehle, on February 24, 1933, in Camden, N.J.
As you can see from this picture of Jack, taken in 1935, either his parents had a flair for dressing young Johann Jakob, as his father called him, or he started collecting at the young age of two.
Jack entered the army in 1953 and was deployed to Korea.
 
His MOS, Military Occupation Specialty, was 1766 which stands for high speed radio operator. It meant he could use Morse Code at the rate of sending thirty five words per minute and could receive twenty five words per minute.

When he arrived in Korea, the war had just ended. Knowing Jack as I did, I am certain that the North Koreans found out Jack was coming and this hastened the negotiations to end the "conflict".

Jack's deployment to Korea lasted one year. It often took him five miles north of the 38th parallel where he was set up on a mountain top operating a radio shack from the back of a "deuce and a half". It was from this very cold and damp location that he would radio messages from F-86 Sabre Jets, Corsairs and Piper Cubs to and from ground forces.
Upon returning to the States and civilian life, most of Jack's working life was spent on the Delaware River as a deck hand on a dredge, tanker man on an oil barge and as a longshoreman. 

He started collecting WWII German items in the late 1960s and, like many of us, purchased anything with a swastika on it. I believe his true avocation in life was as an amateur militaria dealer and, boy oh boy was he good at it. I'm very happy about that fact because otherwise, our paths may never have crossed. 

It was circa 1980 that I ran into Jack while I was setting up at a gun/militaria show in Stratford, CT. He was traveling with Tom Wittmann, the noted author of several fine books on edged weapons. By this time Jack had settled into collecting fine edged weapons and supported his habit by doing a little selling on the side.

In the early 1980s, while at a show in Cincinnati, Jack, along with Tom Wittmann and Tom Johnson, sat down to discuss running their own military antiques show. The result was what became known as the Military Antiques Extravaganza. The first MAX Show was held in 1985 in St. Louis and grew to be the greatest militaria show in the world for many years.
In 1986, Jack started setting up at the flea market in Berlin, NJ. He quickly became the "go to" guy for militaria and he pulled more treasures out of contacts he made at the flea market than any other person I knew on earth.
 
Among hundreds of hits he made was a Knight's Cross document with an original Adolf Hitler signature for a Stuka pilot. 
 
Jack never forgot his humble beginnings and also remained very active in Korean War veteran's activities. While stationed in Korea, he had a severe case of frostbite which has pestered him throughout the years. 

There are 28,000 other Korean War veterans who suffer from a condition called "delayed frostbite". He petitioned the Veteran's Administration for years to recognize this condition but was continually ignored.  However, being the stubborn Kraut that he was, he kept fighting this crusade. After five and a half years of doing battle with the bureaucracy, his claim was finally approved and he was justifiably awarded a fifty percent disability. This set a precedent and hopefully other deserving veterans will follow suit. 

Jack and I became fast friends with our very first encounter and that relationship grew and become even closer over the past four decades. Jack has been a role model and a mentor, and, therefore, I was honored to be a close friend of Johann Jakob Staehle.
I am dedicating Volume II of my series entitled 
THE STORIES BEHIND THE TREASURES OF WORLD WAR II  
"The Making of a Collectorholic"
to Jack
!  May he R.I.P.