Wayne Steele, Publicity Director for the Steele County Free Fair in Owatonna told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners today about a special guest coming to the largest county fair in the state.

Jake Larson, 100, is the last survivor of his platoon that stormed Omaha Beach in the Normandy invasion of World War II.

Steele says Sergeant Larson is very spry for his age and loves visiting with people.  He is being honored at the flag raising ceremony to officially begin the fair at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Jake has authored a book co-written by Rita Carlson entitled, "The Luckiest Man in the World:  Stories from the Life of Papa Jake."  He co-wrote the book three years ago.

He will be available to sell and sign copies of the book which is filled with interesting perspectives of live in the 20th century by the man affectionately called Papa Jake  .

Steele explained someone saw Jake being interviewed on one of the morning network shows around D-Day.  The Steele County native told the interviewer his only wish was to go back to his hometown fair.  The Steele County Fair in Owatonna.

Steele says Jake grew up on a farm near Ellendale, Mn. without electricity or running water.  He was born December 20, 1922

The seventh of eight children was the only member of his family to graduate from high school.

In his book Jake shares hard work on the farm during the Great Depression and the fact his parents sold moonshine to live because the farm was not making enough money.

Jake lied about his age, telling the National Guard he was older than his actual 15 years so he could enlist.

Jake received the Bronze Star and assisted in planning D-Day.

Jake recalls more than one near-death experience during the war which is only one reason for the book title.  He served three years, discharged April 13, 1945.

After the war he says he continued to have some "luck" recalling meeting his wife Lola, moving to California, starting a family and more.

The book also chronicles a fall that removed his posttraumatic stress disorder shakes, and an operation that eradicated his color-blindness.

He talks about his retirement life which have included trips returning overseas for the 75th Anniversaries of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

During COVID Jake became a TikTok sensation by sharing his stories for people around the world.

Jake makes it very clear the title of his book is not just a title for a book.

He truly believes he has been very lucky in his life and appreciates all the blessings every day.

Below is a copy of the Steele County Fair preview show with Wayne Steele from the Mother's Rest building on the Steele County Free Fairgrounds.


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