I crossed paths with Jerry a few years ago on a fly fishing trip to Alaska. If not for the bad weather that day, I never would have met him. Our plane, flying from Anchorage to Lake Iliamna, flew the entire way on instruments only. It was a white knuckle flight. We were in clouds the entire trip, it was like flying inside a sock. I sat behind the pilot and could see the altimeter. I could tell we were going to land when the little dial started turning. When that little dial hit 900 feet we suddenly dropped out of the sock and then, in what seemed like only seconds, the tires screeched on the runway. A few days later when I flew back it was blue skies and we flew a valley in between mountains all the way back and we flew lower than the mountain tops. I had been lucky on that first trip, having no idea what we were flying through, the pilot flying solely on instruments. Me, I don’t even trust the oil light on my car.
We were supposed to jump on a float plane at nearby Lake Iliamna, but the weather got worse, keeping the plane grounded. The airport was tiny and there was no good place to get out of the rain. There was just a control tower and to get out of the rain we were huddled in the unheated stairway with all our gear. Our outfitter knew this and called a nearby lodge and asked a favor, to pick us up and let us hang out at the lodge until he could fly in. The owner of the lodge drove a van over and picked us up. That man was Jerry Jacques. To this day I don’t think I have ever met anyone in such a short time that has made such an impression on me as Jerry did that day.
Jerry was doing his best to be a good host and cared for us as he would have his own customers. He brought us in, made us a pot of coffee, put on a big tin of lasagna in the oven and entertained us with knowledge about the area and stories of his own experiences as master guide and bush pilot. I have never met anyone with his level of knowledge of shooting, guiding and bush piloting.
When Jerry offered to take us on a tour of Iliamna I was the only one that took him up on it, but I’m glad I did, mostly just to hang out with him but the tour was just what I needed. I was, and still am, hungry for as much as I can get of Alaska.
The real kicker was when he said that we had just missed the famous test pilot Chuck Yeager by one day. My friends seemed to think that might have been a stretch, but as I walked around the lodge I bumped into a photo of Chuck Yeager laying on the mantle, signed and dated the previous day, thanking Jerry for his hospitality, with a $100 bill next to it. I left another Benjamin beside it, maybe a little pricey for frozen lasagna and coffee but I appreciated every minute of meeting and talking to Jerry.
Jerry is the real deal and I’ve kept up with him since my visit, hoping that I could afford another trip to Alaska and take my wife and son. That hasn’t happened, but Jerry has kept me on his email list and today I got this email from his wife.
|Recently Jerry had the opportunity to go to Ukraine. He had been asked to teach a sniper class in Poland to Ukranian defenders. When he arrived in Warsaw he discovered that the class was cancelled because the ammunition they were going to use had been blown up by the Russians. He met and began working with some amazing people who are risking their lives and using their own resources to bring necessary supplies into Ukraine. I have attached a video he has created telling their story. https://youtu.be/ezOf4LYVh4w|
Laura O’Connell Jacques
Jacques Adventures/ Alaska Grizzly Safaris
I have lost all trust in the news industry since 2019. I no longer watch any news, but instead seek information from individuals I am comfortable with. I am glad to finally get an account of what is happening in Ukraine from someone I know, Jerry. I am always disgusted to hear politicians talk about the taxpayer money they are committing to different humanitarian projects, only to find out that private organizations like Samaritans Purse have to pick up the slack. That seems to be the case here with an organization called backroadsfoundation.org. Please watch the video in the link above and make up your own mind but please consider www.backroadsfoundation.org