Jack Baylis was born June 11, 1940 and grew up on the family farm on Babcock Hill graduating from West Winfield Central School in 1958.
Although he made a couple short visits to Morrisville college, he basically stayed on the farm for five more years after graduation. At the age of 23, with the prompting from a friend, Jack enlisted in the Marines. It was August 1963.
Like all Marines, he did his basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He may have been a naive farm boy from Upstate New York, but he knew how to shoot and excelled at the firing range.
Jack received his career field training in Memphis, Tennessee to be an Airborne Radio Electronics Technician. In other words, he repaired aircraft communications equipment.
The aircraft he worked on was the F-4, A-6 and F-8.
Jack served in Asia; First in Okinawa (which at that time was under U.S. control) and then on mainland Japan, Iwakuni.
His one and a half years in Asia, 1964 and 65, was prior to our offensive operations in Vietnam.
Jack returned from Japan and was assigned to Cherry Point, North Carolina. He completed his four-year enlistment there, maintaining aircraft that had seen action in Vietnam. (Recall it was the summer of ‘65 when the Marines began combat operations in Vietnam.)
After four years in the Marines, in August 1967 Jack received an honorable discharge and went back to the family farm.
Using the GI Bill, he finished his education and taught at Agriculture at Mt. Markham for 20 years.
In 1993, at the age of 53, someone told him he looked like Abraham Lincoln. And thus, began nearly 20 years of attending Civil War re-enactments dressed as our 16th president and reciting the Gettysburg address.
Jack’s service to our country, our community and our Civil War history is a tribute to everything we hold dear. We’ll miss you, Jack.