Staff Sgt. Jerry Miracle poses by some of the awards and medals he earned during his tenure in the United States Army. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Staff Sgt. Jerry Miracle poses by some of the awards and medals he earned during his tenure in the United States Army. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – When Staff Sgt. Jerry Miracle went on an Honor Flight on Oct. 16, 2019, the staff had a hard time trying to place him in a specific group. Miracle served in the Army from March 1956 to December 1977 and was stationed around the world during the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Miracle, with the help of his guardian Mike Springer, was able to see the memorials for the very first time. While the entire day was special for him, he said one of his favorite memorials to see was the Vietnam Wall.

Miracle received basic training in Fort Leonard Wood. He became a military police officer at Fort Gordon, Georgia and then was sent to Anchorage and Fairbanks in Alaska.

“It was very nice there,” said Miracle. “We worked for the Air Force. They had mattresses about 16 inches thick compared to the ones we had in the barracks which were only about three or four inches. The food was better, but we worked long hours.”

Miracle ran perimeter security on the Air Force Base. If he found anyone injured, he would call planes in to take them to Fairbanks. On his off duty hours, he worked with park rangers and territory police, which later became the State Highway Patrol. Other times, he would go out and pan for gold.

Upon graduation from Van Wert High School, Miracle sought work but found that many of the factories were looking for potential employees who had completed time in the military.

“I couldn’t get hired,” said Miracle. “I told my father, ‘Hey, every place from Van Wert to Detroit would hire you after you complete six years; I’m going in the Army.’”

After completing the first few years, Miracle decided to re-enlist and make a career of the military.

“I said, ‘Hey dad, I know where I’ve got three square meals a day, a bed to sleep on, and I'll get paid for it,’” Miracle recalled. “So I stayed in the military for 22 years.”

Miracle was sent to Vietnam in August 1967. He was part of the Tet Offensive in 1968, a series of surprise attacks by the Vietcong.

“Anytime you turned around, you had everything all at once coming at you,” Miracle said.

During his service, Miracle spent time in Italy and Germany working with the German Army. He became fluent in German.

Near the end of his service, around 1976, Miracle found himself in Korea before being honorably discharged.

Miracle said he enjoyed his 22 years of service. During those years, he took many photographs of his time working overseas and in Alaska.

“I worked with the police departments in the host country and their military,” he said. “I met people I would have never met. They taught me their country. I enjoyed it, so I stayed in.”

When Miracle was discharged from the military, he found work at Aeroquip. He worked there for over 20 years until he retired.

Today, Miracle is a member of the American Legion, the VFW, and the DAV. He still wears his uniform when asked to present at funerals. He and his wife, Rosa, reside in Van Wert.

Miracle has earned an immense amount of medals and awards including Meritorious Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with seven awards, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, US Vietnam Service Medal with seven campaigns, Vietnam Campaign with 60 Devices, Run Gallantry Cross Medal with Palm, American Defense Medal, Honorable Discharge Medal, Vietnam 50th Anniversary Medal, Overseas Service Medal, Cold War Victory Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal, Tet Campaign Medal, US Army Service, 50th Anniversary Korean Medal, Korean Defense Medal, Vietnam Training Service Medal, Vietnam Cadet Training Medal, Run Civil Action Honor Medal, Armed Forces Retired Service Medal, Army Marksmanship medals including Rifle - Expert and Pistol - Sharpshooter, a Retired Military Police Shield, Army Presidential Unit (blue), Army Meritorious Unit with one oak leaf (red), Vietnam Presidential Unit, Run Gallantry Cross Unit, Run Civic Action Honor Medal Unit, and German Marksman Medal (Gold- Expert).