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Former MCAS CO keeps halo, earns new wings

By Cpl. K. A. Thompson | | September 9, 2005

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In 1924 Calvin Coolidge was president, Joseph Stalin began his rule as Soviet dictator, Notre Dame went 10-0 in college football, Buster Keaton was headlining in two silent films, Washington won the World Series and a Marine aviator was borne in Baltimore.

Retired Col. Richard Jacob “Jake” Schriver, a former Air Station commanding officer, lived a rich and full professional and personal life, which included more than 30 years of service to his country, 37 years of dedication to the Beaufort community and a lifetime of devotion to his friends and family. Schriver’s military career spanned across three decades and three wars, and he remained a true Marine well past retirement and straight through a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer that resulted in his passing Aug. 15.

Schriver was born on Jan. 21, 1924. He graduated high school in Baltimore, entered the Marine Corps at age 18, and managed to earn his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, and a Masters from George Washington University while serving in the Corps, according to his wife of 51 years, Lynn Peterson Schriver.

“The fact that he completed his education says a lot about Jake,” Lynn said. “We were married, had two kids, and he was working at the Pentagon. He went to school at night because he came in at 18 and only had a high school diploma. In order to get promoted you have to have that piece of paper. It was hard work, but he did it for his family.”

Lynn and Schriver met in Hawaii in January of 1953 when she was a stewardess for Pan American Airlines and he was serving as a general’s aid. Lynn was working the airlift from San Francisco to Japan.

“We were coming back from Japan and we crossed the dateline, which means I missed Christmas,” Lynn said. “But I also had two New Years’. I went to a party with one of my girlfriends, and that’s how I met Jake.”

The Schrivers were married Jan. 30, 1954 in El Toro, Calif. Throughout their marriage Jake was a good husband and a father to their two children, but he also remained extremely loyal to the Corps, according to Lynn.

“Jake was born a Marine,” Lynn said. “His love of the Corps was one of his best qualities. I don’t know how he would describe himself as a Marine; I just know he loved the Corps. It meant the world to him.

“I only knew him as a husband. When we got married he said there were three things he never wanted me to do for him: polish his shoes, press his uniform, or do his brass. He did all of that and I never did. I guess it was a Marine thing and he figured I would never know how to do it because I was a civilian.”

Schriver’s Marine Corps career had several highlights, including serving as the first Marine Assistant Naval Attaché for Mexico and Central America in 1959. Schriver was also the commanding officer of VMF-334, Marine Aircraft Group 32 and the Air Station. His personal awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with combat “V,” and three Air Medals, but “Jake” was not concerned with his personal accomplishments, he was quick to dismiss them in favor of the bigger picture, according to Lynn.

“Jake wouldn’t even talk about what he called ‘embroidery,” Lynn said. “He had a plaque he got when he retired, and they were listed right there, but he fought three wars and he was just part of a large group of Marines.

“He felt as an aviator you need five fellows on the ground to put the plane up in the air. So, he had the human touch of five fellows that were helping him get in the plane. It was a group effort. Those planes may fly, but it takes a lot of people to put them up there.”

Schriver had a reputation for being a dependable straight shooter that made him a great leader, and a good friend, according to Jake Dobbratz, a retired colonel and Schriver’s operations officer during his command of the Air Station from 1969-1970.

“I’d say one of the best things about Jake was that he was forthright,” Dobbratz said. “When Jake said something it was never construed as being ambiguous.

“He was a great CO and great company. I spent 31 years in the Marine Corps and he was the best CO I ever had. He had an outstanding career as an aviator and he was a good friend.”

Dobbratz’s wife Catherine also worked with Schriver when he was the Air Station CO.

“Jake inherited me as his secretary when he came over from MAG-32 to serve as CO,” Catherine said. “He was a wonderful man to work for. You looked forward to coming to work when you worked for him.”

Catherine, or “Dinksy” as all of her friends call her, credited Schriver for his fairness, understanding and ability to listen to people for making him such an effective CO and enjoyable person to be around, but it was his sense of humor that also stood out as one of his best character traits.

“When I worked as his secretary he would tell everyone that my main job was to come in every day and shine his halo,” Catherine said. “Once I came up behind him at a party and began rubbing his head. When he turned around and saw it was me he said, ‘that’s right, shine that halo.’”

When Schriver retired from the Marine Corps in 1970, he decided to remain in Beaufort. The Schriver family was one of the first Marine families to stay in Beaufort, according to Lynn.

“We merged into the community of Beaufort,” Lynn said. “We got into real estate and helped develop the first nine holes of the golf course at Pleasant Point (on Lady’s Island). We were the first family of Pleasant Point.”

Not one to stay still, Schriver spent about two years developing real estate in Pleasant Point and then he worked in the commuter airline industry and as a real estate appraiser. Schriver also served on the State Aeronautics Commission, Beaufort Tax Equalization Board, Beaufort Land Trust and the Beaufort Historical Society. And of course there was golf.

Schriver was an avid and accomplished golfer, according to Tom Bailey, Schriver’s next door neighbor of 13 years.

“First of all he was a tough old Marine,” Bailey said. “But he did build the first nine holes of the golf course and he was always proud of that. He was still playing until about a month before he passed away, and as sick as he was, he was still playing in the high 70’s to low 80’s. Still breaking 100.”

The Schrivers were able to settle in Beaufort because the area adopted them like a family, according to Lynn. And Jake was always willing to extend his adopted family by welcoming new friends to the area (regardless of what branch of the military they had served in), according to retired Army Maj. Gen. William Cobb.

“I’ve known Jake since I came to Beaufort in 1975,” Cobb said. “He was a unique one of a kind-brash like any Marine- but just a likeable guy. He made you feel at home when you were around him.

“He loved the Marine Corps of course. I’m retired Army and he’d give me a hard time about it. He also held out on me because one day I found out that he had gone to the U.S. Army War College, and I just got a kick out of that. As a Marine to be sent there, he had to be the cream of the crop.”

Schriver was a great all-around guy who was tough-minded at times, but whose absence will leave a void in the local community, according to Cobb.

“We’re going to miss him,” Cobb said. “He was a great asset to the Marine family here in Beaufort, and to his many civilian friends. He had a lot of friends who will deeply miss him … he was just a friendly, good guy.”

Schriver’s only son Eric passed on before his father, but Jake is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Laurie and Jack Wyatt and his grandchildren, Kelly and Ross, and his wife Lynn. Jake also  leaves behind a large group of friends in the Beaufort community. Together they will keep Jake alive in their hearts and minds in the town the Schriver’s decided to call home.

“You never know what impact you have on life,” Lynn said. “He accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish. He had great humor, he loved the Corps, he loved people and he loved golf. He was a very easy man to live with.”
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