At nearly 106 years old, David Jergenson has quite the life story to tell. A native of Cyrus, Jergenson served in World War II and now shares his stories with those who are willing to listen.
Jergenson has told his story to Pioneer PBS, given speeches to school assemblies, and most recently visited with Representative Paul Anderson and his wife, Faith, to share his story.
Faith met with Jergenson a few months ago to write a story for the Senior Perspective, and wanted to connect him with Paul for a visit. The visit took place at the end of October, and just in time to reflect upon for Veteran’s Day only a couple of short weeks later.
Jergenson shared that he was drafted into the war during his twenties, and met his wife, Julette, the day before he shipped overseas. That timing may not have been the most convenient, but they persevered through the war and wed in 1946, after which they were married for 75 years. The couple exchanged letters throughout Jergenson’s deployment where he witnessed many of his friends receive “Dear John” letters. At one point, he said, “why don’t you go out with somebody else?” to which she replied, “they’re either too young or too old.”
During his time overseas, Jergenson was deployed first to North Africa, and then onto Italy, where he bore witness to the infamous display of Benito Mussolini, along with other executed fascists, hanging by their feet in a public square.
During the war, David worked on recovering damaged allied tanks with the tank corps as he had experience with some mechanical work.
Trench foot was also a prevalent ailment among soldiers during the war, and Jergenson wanted to prevent himself from getting it, so he found some inner tube and bailing wire to fashion some protection over his shoes to prevent his feet from getting wet. He adds that even without trench foot, trying to fall asleep with wet boots was uncomfortable.
It was during his time overseas that Jergenson found his faith in Christianity. During a period of time where his crew had spare time and the weather was rainy and muddy, his sergeant said they were going to hold a church service in the Fiat factory. He had been raised in a Christian home, he recalls, but it was after this service that he “realized he needed to have some faith in Jesus because he’s the one who suffered for all of us.” Jergenson remembers that as one of the most important things that happened in his life.
When Representative Anderson and his wife, Faith, visited with David at the end of October, some of David’s family members were also present to share memories. His son Duane and wife Wendy, and his daughter Cheryl were present and shared stories of growing up on the Jergenson mink farm.
Up until recently, Duane said, David was still helping out on the farm that Duane had carried on.
David has shared stories of his service many times, including a video interview with Pioneer PBS that he, along with friend Scott Estenson, flew into Granite Falls for.
David has given speeches to school assemblies for Veteran’s Day programs before where he shares the story of his service, and reminds students that freedom isn’t free.