John “Jack” and Phyllis Sherman’s Journey from the Greatest Generation
John “Jack” Sherman has lived a life that exemplifies the dedication, ethic, and romance of the Greatest Generation. His father, John Francis Sherman, immigrated to the United States from Cornwall, England, in 1905 and worked in a Butte, Montana, copper mine. John Francis would temporarily return to his home country in 1920 to bring over his wife, Olive, and three children: Ronald, Marjorie, and William.
The Sherman family, now living in Detroit, Michigan, would welcome three more boys. John “Jack” was born on November 14th, 1923, right in the middle of his brothers Kenneth and Howard. All eight of them lived in a small home in the Motor City. Jack’s father worked for the Detroit Transportation Department, even maintaining his position during the Great Depression, but earning a very low wage. They lived as most did during this time—with only the bare essentials. In 1936, when Jack was just 12 years old, John Francis passed away.
The spirit of sacrifice and dedication Jack’s father instilled in the family would survive. When he reached the age to work, Jack took a job at a local plant. It was during this time that people “shared the ride” because of fuel rationing, meaning people would take turns driving to and from work with others from their neighborhood. In what would seem like true serendipity, Jack came to meet his future wife, Phyllis Jarchow, from these circumstances.
“She was very pretty and easy to talk to,” Jack said of his wife. He found comfort in that, since he was shy with the girls.
Whether it was his car or his 1937 Harley Davidson, Jack took Phyllis to the movies and other activities or events just to have a companion. He didn’t initially look at her as a girlfriend, just a kind face to spend time with. “It was nice to be around her,” he said.
Phyllis Jarchow was the second youngest of seven children: three boys and four girls. She was a tall, very attractive girl with dark hair and rather talented and smart—yet still quiet and bashful. She played the Hawaiian (steel) guitar that accompanied her smooth, beautiful voice.
At the age of 16, Phyllis had to say goodbye to Jack because he went to volunteer for induction into the Army. “You could not volunteer for head out,” Jack explained, “because they were losing track of people that they wanted to draft, so all were inducted into the service.” Jack and his four brothers served in the military during World War II. Jack would join the iconic 101st Airborne Division.
Phyllis told Jack that she would wait for him. At that time, what he didn’t know, was that soon after they had met, Phyllis told her mother that she was introduced to the man she was going to marry. During the time that he was gone, she wrote him a letter every day.
Jack’s basic training for the 101st Airborne lasted 17 weeks. Throughout these weeks, he was promoted to PFC and assigned to stay on as cadre; later, the Army assigned him to a new battalion as an instructor with duties of “Acting Sgt.”, and he spent another 17 weeks teaching new recruits. He soon discovered that, in many cases, the teacher learns more than the student. Just as the training courses ended, the most pivotal event of the war occurred—“D-Day”, the Normandy Invasion.
In October, 1943, the Army sent Jack out as a replacement. And in 1944, he was deployed to Europe, winding up in Redding, England. There, equipped with an M-1 Garand rifle, the Army informed him he was joining an elite combat unit: the Airborne Glider troops.
And when the war ended in the spring of 1945, Jack returned home—along with all four of his brothers.
On April 13th, 1946, just three months after his return home, Jack would marry the beautiful young woman whose letters continually motivated him. So Phyllis Jarchow, now a Toledo, Ohio, resident, became Phyllis Sherman. Jack was welcomed into her family with much love and adulation, often treating him as though he were their favorite son—underscoring this incredibly amazing connection.
In the years to come, the Shermans would have two sons, John Francis and Kenneth James, and three grandchildren. And in 1988, Jack and Phyllis retired to Bend, Oregon. A few years later (1992), Jack and his son John attended the 48th anniversary of the Airborne drop at Operation Market-Garden in Holland.
For years, Jack didn’t talk about his military service. To this day, he doesn’t think his actions were anything special or unique. “When you get into a position where you’re terrified, and you think ‘if my buddy is still holding on, I can too,’ you find the strength and courage from not wanting to let anyone down. And you hold on. I don’t think my war experience was that unusual, but I feel very proud to have been part of it.”
We are very proud to have Jack Sherman, as well as our other veterans, who served our country, and his lovely wife, Phyllis, at Cambridge Village of Apex. It is thanks to these veterans, who protect our granted liberties, that we can enjoy the seasons, our families, and our friends.