Biography: Jerome “Jerry” Cohen was born on August 29, 1919, in San Francisco, California. He was the son of Henry Cohen and Sarah Gidal and attended Lowell High School, graduating in 1936. He continued his education at the University of California and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. He graduated in 1940.
Service Time: Jerry joined the Army right out of college. He had participated in ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Program) in both high school and college and entered the service as a 2nd Lt. He spent the majority of the war at the rank of Captain, serving in the Headquarters Company of the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He was the unit’s S-2, Intelligence Officer, who was responsible for collecting data on the enemy and recommending strategy and troop deployment.
In 1942, Jerry married the former Evelyn Marie Powers, “Polly”, at Camp Roberts, CA. She was born in Oroville, CA, and was the daughter of Talbot Joseph Powers and Edna Caroline Holmes.
The 807th shipped out from the New York port on August 11, 1944, arriving in Liverpool, England, on August 23, and then at Utah Beach on September 18. They fought in the Metz, France, sector from September to November and attacked toward Saarlautern, Germany, in November and December. The unit battled against the German Nordwind offensive in January, 1945, and then shifted north to join the offensive moving to the Rhine in March. They defended the Rhine River bridges in April and converted to the M18 tank destroyer in time to join the drive through Bavaria late that same month. They finally reached the vicinity of Salzburg, Austria, in early May. The 807th received credit for the campaigns of the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
Jerry returned to the U.S. and left the service but remained in the Army Reserves, serving in the 6212th ARASU (Army Reserve Area Service Unit) in the San Francisco Presidio. He went to Hastings Law School, graduating in 1949, and was a member of the Order of the Coif.
Starting in 1952, Jerry worked as the Deputy City Attorney for San Francisco, a job he remained in for 24 years. The last 12 years, he served as legal council for the San Francisco Airport. He was involved in a number of critical negotiations and litigation for the city, including bringing the Giants baseball team to the city in 1958 and the landmark noise abatement case involving the airport. He retired from the city on March 17, 1976, and from the reserves, three years later, as a Lt. Col. The couple had four children, Carolyn, Nancy, Richard and Randalyn.
During his retirement, Jerry filled his time with service to many charitable and civic organizations. His time in the tank destroyers led him to be one of the founding Board Members of the Tank Destroyer Association. He additionally served as VP and Chairman of their 1982 and 1983 Reunions. He was the group’s Secretary and Newsletter Editor and during this time, he introduced a computer system to assist with their business needs. His experience as an attorney allowed him to prepare the group’s Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.
Jerry passed away on February 15, 1985, and was buried in the Skylawn Memorial Park on Skyline Drive in San Mateo, CA. I want to thank Jerry’s daughter, Carolyn, for providing the photos and information for this tribute.