York Town Square

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About York, Pa.,’s Gen. Jacob Devers: ‘He would have been thrilled to meet the lt. of the first POW camp he had freed’

This two-panel mural of World War II four-star general and York County, Pa., native Jacob Loucks Devers was painted on the side of the York YMCA. It was the last of the 18 large-scale panels to be painted. As another point of interest, see the door and the dark plaque above it, right below the light? It lists more than 20 Y members who died in the war. (See related photo below.) Also of interest: York native Jacob L. Devers’ name still in service at Fort Knox, Ky. and Air Force Drum & Bugle Corps: ‘York area has always been known for their musicians’ and York/Adams residents contributed to ‘The War’
Jacque Meeker is a 91-year-old York County resident, a resident of Kelly Manor.
He told about meeting another York man bearing four stars in World War II. That man, Jacob Loucks Devers, was raised on Roosevelt Avenue in York, not far from where Jacque Meeker resides on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Jacque was a liberated prisoner of war in Germany when he met Devers.
Here’s an edited and excerpted account of that encounter and a near-meeting years after the war… .

It was this day, Good Friday, that I learned General Devers had received his
fourth star. American soldiers began drifting in. The POWs were in the court
yard picking lice from each other. It was then that I saw a Four-Star
General approach. I gave him my best salute and he answered by placing his
arm on my shoulder and saying, “My God, Ltd., tell me about it.” I was
telling him about conditions there and Captain Merrill, stating that these
men deserve the highest award that our nation can give.
As we approached, the Captain and Major who were working on patients had
located all the medical supplies they needed in storage and were overjoyed.
After introducing them to the general, they continued their work. General
Devers turned to his aid and said, “Colonel, can we have all the men in a
hospital in Paris between white sheets enjoying bacon and eggs for Easter
The colonel seemed to turn white and said, “No way, general.
Everything’s moving East. We have only one pontoon bridge and a constant
flow of tanks and trucks, and men.” It was then I learned of the power and
compassion of General Devers. He apologized to the colonel and stated, That’s
an order”!
By the next evening over 200 ambulances arrived at Heppenheim. We were
driven to Mainz and flown to Paris.
One small item of interest – the POW’s had been trashing the place looking
for anything of value. One of them found my helmet and gave it to me
saying, “Lt., you may need this.” I was overjoyed. One other item of note
is that all we were given to eat had been ersatz coffee, black bread,
(mostly sawdust), and potato peeling soup; and yet, the Germans had food in
abundance in storage.
We were ambulanced to the hospital in Paris. On the way I started
scratching like mad and asking the soldiers to help me get rid of the lice.
When I returned to the states and was discharged from the army, I married my
beloved. We agreed to live in Dayton, Ohio, my home town where my brother
I joined the Standard Register Company and ended up in of all places – York,
I learned that they were honoring General Devers at the Valencia. My wife
and I discussed at length about my attending, and we decided that it would
be wrong for me to seek attention in that way – as I grew older and wiser I
realized how selfish I was – I was thinking of me and not the general. He
would have been thrilled to meet the lt. of the first POW camp he had freed.
I could have written just about General Devers, but evidently that’s not my
style. As my wife was often to say – “You do go on and on and on.” You now
have proof.
Life is a bundle of joy, and I feel I’m the richest man in the world.

Jacque is going to Cleveland Clinic next week for some heart work. We wish him well.
Also of interest:
Book gives positive view about forgotten general and York native Jake Devers
World War II Gen. Jacob Loucks Devers: Credited his ‘strength as coming from York and that is why he placed his papers here’

Gen. Jacob Loucks Devers, left, is seen with George Patton and Omar Bradley, in this photo from the Devers collection at the York County Heritage Trust.
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