Jake "Papa Jake" Larson, a World War II veteran who served on Omaha Beach on D-Day, turned 100 years old on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
In his 100 years of life, he has published a book, raised a family and has even been celebrated onstage by the Zac Brown Band.
Born on Dec. 20, 1922, in Owatonna, Minnesota, Larson told Fox News Digital in an email interview that his entry into the military was a little unorthodox. He enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1938, only getting in because he "lied about my age by three years."
On Feb. 10, 1941, Larson said he was put into federal service and sent to Camp Claiborne in Louisiana.
There, he participated in Louisiana maneuvers.
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Larson's ascent through the military ranks was — and still is — quite unusual. In a YouTube video he posted in July 2020, Larson explained that as an infantryman, his appendix burst while he was in Louisiana.
While he was on sick leave, someone noticed that he could type. As a result, he was moved to the headquarters of the 135th Infantry Regiment as the company clerk.
"Then I became a corporal," he said in the video.
While serving as company clerk, Larson realized that technically, the company clerk was supposed to be a sergeant — "with a corporal helper."
So "I was a corporal with no helper," he said.
When he brought this to the attention of his commanding officer, he was told that he would not be getting the promotion to sergeant, but would be getting a helper.
That helper, said Larson, "couldn't type."
"Then, December 7 came along, and the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor," he said. "I didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was at the time, until they mentioned it was in Hawaii."
"That changed everything," he said in the video.
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Everyone in his regiment who had not had a furlough in the past year was given a 15-day furlough back to Minnesota, which the commanding officer later changed to a seven-day furlough.
Except, of course, for Larson.
"I found out [that] about 55 guys hadn't had a furlough in the past year, and Cpl. Jake Larson was one of them," he said.
"It's a funny thing about that typewriter: When I typed out my furlough papers … the typewriter, I didn't really realize it — it put 15 in there!"
"I had a 15-day furlough back home," said Larson.
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When he returned to Camp Claiborne, Larson's commanding officer demoted him to private and threatened to court-martial him, but that quickly changed when the group was sent to Fort Dix in New Jersey.
"I sailed on the British ship RMS Aquitania," he said, before being stationed in Armagh, Northern Ireland, he told Fox News Digital.
While in Northern Ireland, then-Private Jake Larson helped transfer Americans who had previously enlisted in the Canadian or British militaries prior to the United States' entry into the war back to the U.S. forces.
"Our forces paid more money. You didn't have to tempt them very much," said Larson.
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"That dried up after about 35 days," Larson explained in the video.
"I thought, ‘Well, here I'll be climbing poles and stringing wire.'"
That would not be the case.
Larson was transferred to the G3 of the V Corps just three days later.
"I didn't know what G3 was — they put me to the test," he said.
The test involved typing, which Larson said he "went through like a cyclone," impressing the master sergeant.
Two months later he was once again promoted to corporal and given increased responsibilities. A few months later, he became a sergeant.
"I don't think I was in V Corps five or six months before I became a sergeant," he said in the YouTube video.
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After bouncing around Northern Ireland and eventually ending up in England, he received training in shooting 50-caliber machine guns before shifting to Portsmouth to prep for what would eventually become D-Day.
"Then we moved to Portsmouth to work on the invasion plans," said.
His company participated in the D-Day rehearsal "Exercise Tiger" at England's Slapton Sands. That operation did not go as planned, he said.
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The Allies "lost two LSTs [landing ship tanks] from German e-boats next to us, taking 795 lives," Larson explained.
A little more than a month after Exercise Tiger, Larson "landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day" and was "in charge of planning at Omaha Beach" that night.
After D-Day, Larson "moved on to Saint-Lô, Falaise, Paris, Luxembourg, Eupen [Belgium]."
"After the Battle of the Bulge, I was given a 45-day furlough to return home," he said.
Larson was discharged on April 13, 1945, having achieved the rank of staff sergeant in the G-3 V Corps.
He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Honor from France.
In 2021, Larson published the book, "The Luckiest Man in the World: Stories from the life of Papa Jake."
The book is so titled because despite his seven years in the military, and plenty of close calls at some of the deadliest battles in the war, he returned home physically unscathed.
After the war, Larson married his wife Lola on Nov. 23, 1945.
They moved to California in 1957, where they had three children, Kurt, Linda and Karlan.
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He is now known as "Papa Jake" to his nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and nearly 500,000 followers on his TikTok account.
Larson posts videos recounting his time in the military on his "Story Time With Papa Jake" account, which his granddaughter started.
"In 2020, my granddaughter, McKaela, had recently been laid off her job [of] working on cruise ships during the COVID pandemic," Larson told Fox News Digital.
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"She spent the pause from work home with me. For the 76th anniversary of D-Day, she made a TikTok about me that went viral."
After that first brush with a viral TikTok, people told Larson that he should create his own account.
"Story Time With Papa Jake" began soon after.
"I told her she was opening a can of worms," he said.
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Within a week, Larson's TikTok account had over 10,000 followers.
Larson said he could not believe the success of his account.
Larson told Fox News Digital he feels thankful for TikTok, as it is a way for him to "share my stories to generations to come" as the number of WWII veterans in the nation continues to decline.
"I currently have almost half a million followers and still can’t believe it. It is crazy," he said.
On his TikTok account, Larson chronicled his trip back to Normandy for the 78th anniversary of D-Day, as well as shared some of his personal stories about what happened during the war.
To celebrate Papa Jake's milestone 100th birthday this week, his family is requesting people send him birthday cards.
Cards can be sent, with gratitude, to 3559 Mt Diablo Blvd #200 Lafayette CA 94549.