Mr. Estrada won the hearts of fans across the world during his six years on the TV series, “CHiP’s.” Mr. Estrada has made numerous TV/motion picture appearances since his time on the hit TV show, yet the role he enjoys most is that of a role model to children throughout the world (www.erikestrada.com). By receiving this award, he will be helping many children with autism by spreading the word about this lifesaving program to others, in addition to helping adults with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and related cognitive conditions.
Chief Executive Officer of Project Lifesaver International, Gene Saunders, said, “Mr. Estrada is very supportive of law enforcement and of the services Project Lifesaver offers to clients and agencies, and we thought he would be a perfect ambassador to represent our cause and carry our mission.”
If Jack Jacobs wanted a challenge, he certainly had one in 1966. He had a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, a wife and a daughter, and no money. He had been through ROTC, and his plan was to enter active duty to earn a regular paycheck, then attend law school when his three year Army commitment was finished. He volunteered immediately for airborne duty –
A year later, Lieutenant Jacobs was in Vietnam as a adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion in the Mekong Delta. He had wanted to deploy with his unit, the 82ND Airborne Division, and when he asked the Army why he had been chosen for the frustrating job of adviser, he was told it was simply because he had a college degree.
On March 9th, 1968, Jacobs was with the lead companies off his South Vietnamese battalion as they searched for the Vietcong. Suddenly, a large enemy force, hidden in bunkers only fifty yards away, opened fire with mortars, rifles, and machine guns. With no place to hide, many South Vietnamese soldiers were killed or wounded in the first few seconds.
A mortar round that landed just a few feet away sent shrapnel tearing through the top of Jacob’s head. Most of the bones in his face were broken, and he could see out of only one eye. He tried calling in air strikes, but the intense enemy ground fire drove off the U. S. fighters. Shortly afterward, the lead company commander was badly wounded, and the South Vietnamese troops began to panic. Jacobs assessed the situation and realized that if someone didn’t act quickly, everyone would be killed. The words of Hillel, the great Jewish philosopher, jumped into his mind: If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
He assumed control of the unit, ordering a withdrawal from the exposed position to a defensive perimeter. He dragged a wounded American sergeant, riddled with chest and stomach wounds, to safety, then returned to the fire-swept battlefield to rescue others. Each time he returned, he had to drive off the Vietcong, and single-handedly killed three and wounded many others. Despite from being weak from blood loss, he went back time and time again, bringing to safety thirteen fellow soldiers before he tried to take a brief rest – and discovered he couldn’t get up again.
During the helicopter ride to the field hospital, he lost consciousness several times. Days later at another hospital, doctor’s pieced his skull and face together. Though he would undergo more than a dozen surgical operations, he never regained is senses of taste and smell.
Back in the United States, Jacobs was assigned to Fort Benning, where he became the commander of an Officer Candidate company. About a year after the action, he received an order to report to Washington, and on October 9, 1969, at a ceremony at the White House, President Richard Nixon awarded him the Medal of Honor.
After completing graduate school at Rutgers University, where he earned an M. A. in international relations, Jacobs asked to return to Vietnam. The Army granted his request on the condition that he remain out of harm’s way. When he returned to Vietnam in July 1972, though, he immediately got himself assigned to the Vietnamese Airborne Division in the thick of fighting in Quand Tri. He walked away unscathed when the helicopter taking him to his unit was shot down, but he was subsequently wounded again.
Ultimately, he retired as a colonel after 20 years on active duty—quite a bit longer than the three years he had originally planned.
Project Lifesaver International Inducts
Teen Artist with Highly Functional Autism,
Haley Moss, as New Ambassador
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
South Florida, teen artist Haley Moss will be inducted as an ambassador of Project Lifesaver International on April 21, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. By this recognition, Haley joins the ranks of other notable Project Lifesaver ambassadors such as Jack Howard Jacobs, retired US Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Vietnam War and Erik Estrada, actor and star of the highly successful television series, “CHiP’s”.
“I am proud to be part of Project Lifesaver International, which is an amazing and important organization! I am so excited to help spread the word regarding Project Lifesavers program that provides the technology and training to both at risk individuals and first responders so that people of all ages can receive the help they need,” said Moss.
When Haley was only three (3) years old she was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Now, at the age of sixteen (16), Haley’s become an accomplished and outstanding young artist, author, and advocate that uses art as a reflection of her experiences. She has been recognized in a number of publications including the Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Boca Raton Magazine, and her art work can be found on the cover of South Florida Parenting. She has appeared on local and national television networks including CNN and NBC, and is currently the subject of a documentary being filmed in Palm Beach, Florida. Later this month she will receive the “Yes I Can!” award for Art. This prestigious award is given to only 27 young people each year to honor children and youth with disabilities who excel.
“Project Lifesaver is privileged to have Haley serving as one of our ambassadors. Both Haley and her parents have demonstrated great character by overcoming and flourishing in spite of the many obstacles and challenges they faced. They also clearly understand the importance of educating the community and caregivers of individuals who have cognitive disorders about the safety issues that exists for their loved one that wander”, said Gene Saunders, President and CEO of Project Lifesaver International.
Candi Spitz is a former Broadcaster/Host and Entertainment Manager who is married to Heavy Metal Guitarist, Dan Spitz, of the bands Anthrax and Red Lamb. They are the proud parents of 5 year old Identical Twin boys who are both Autistic. Since learning of their disability, Candi has become a vocal advocate for Autism Speaks. She serves as the South Florida Spokesperson for Autism Speaks working in the community to raise awareness through public speaking engagements, Radio and TV appearances, Resource Fairs and various events.
As the newest ambassador Candi will join us in our efforts by heading up to establish a $100,000.00 Autism fund to provide transmitters to those families that need the assistance and can not afford them.
“Candi will is a great addition to our ambassador family and we are delighted to have her help us reach goals for the new Autism Fund,” said PLI, CEO & Founder, Gene Saunders.