LIVERMORE — Don Jordan’s life experiences have taken him to the front lines in Europe as a scout in World War II, to a hospital laboratory and to his farm to breed Scottish highland cattle.

The town of Livermore recognized the 88-year-old Jordan for his contributions to the town and to America with the 2014 Spirit of America Award at the town meeting June 11.

Jordan was 18 when he entered the U.S. Army and 19 when he landed on the front lines of the war in Europe. He and 20,000 other military personnel had their basic training cut short when Germany was pushing forward prior to the Battle of the Bulge, he said.

It was January 1945 when he hit the front line. 

President Franklin Roosevelt had said that he wasn’t going to send anyone under 20 overseas, but that was not the case, Jordan said. He and thousands of others were 18 to 19 with very few 20-year-olds in the group as they headed off to war.

Jordan remembers the details of the war as if it was yesterday. He remembers riding on the rail cars, being in the Maginot Line, an underground fortress of the French, and his unit breaching the Siegfried Line, the last bastion of Germany’s defenses, he said.

He even remembers the rough language Gen. George S. Patton used when he pulled up and jumped out of a Jeep prior to them making a push up the Rhine River.

To him, it was just another day on the front lines, he said, but he learned later reading history that breaching the Germans’ defense was a significant part of America securing the German territory and winning the war, he said.

“We essentially broke Hitler,” he said.

He also remembers Patton being upset when supervisors put the unit in a holding pattern and would not let them push on to Berlin.

Jordan earned two Bronze Stars for his war efforts.

Being a scout taught him to be aware of his surroundings.

“I’m quite perceptive,” he said.

He was approximately 20 when he switched to the U.S. Air Force. The government allowed military personnel to change branches. 

“We didn’t change stations, we changed uniforms,” he said.

While in the Air Force, he became a clinical laboratory technician at an Army hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Having been a veteran, he was received well when Korean veterans came back to the hospital, he said.

At one point, he ran a laboratory and the X-ray department at another hospital in Texas before he went on to sell lab equipment.

He eventually took a job installing and servicing electron microprobes. He was called upon to use one to help analyze the welds on the Lunar Excursion Module landing frame that was used to land on the moon, he said.

“I spent 25 to 30 years trying to get back to Maine. I was a gypsy,” he said. “I finally came back to Maine bringing my own business.”

It was the only way to survive and support a family in the state, he said.

When Jordan returned home to Livermore in 1972, he set up a workbench at his house and a machine shop in his basement to service and build parts for electron microprobes.

He farmed his Livermore land for 40 years. He and his wife, Anna, raised three sons. They were married 57 years when she died seven years ago, he said.

He bred Scottish highland cattle until a couple of years ago.

“I have experiences that have shook me to the core,” he said. “I was trained to do things that people would consider brutal and masochistic and it had to do with survival in World War II.”

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