James E. "Jake" McNiece is a native of Maysville who has spent most of his life in Ponca City, graduating from Ponca City High School, where he lettered in football three years and was senior class president. He volunteered for the Army and for paratrooper training in 1942, serving with the famed 101st Airborne Division as a pathfinder.
His first combat jump was in Normandy behind Germany lines, inland from the D-Day beach landings, where he was involved with demolition operations. A second jump was at Zon, Holland, where he participated in the liberation of towns which had been under five years of German occupation. There he helped to clear a path through a German minefield. He made yet another combat jump at Prume, Germany, enabling aerial resupply of General Patton's Third Army. As part of a volunteer suicide demolitions squad which called themselves the "Filthy Thirteen," McNiece helped to inspire the movie "The Dirty Dozen."
McNiece's civilian career in Ponca City included 26 years with the US Post Office, where he helped set up a Federal Employees Credit Union and served several years as president. For ten years he has served on the Ponca City Welfare Board, charged with supervising the city emergency relief agency.
He is a frequent speaker about his paratrooper experiences in World War II to school groups, service clubs, veteran organizations and other groups. Most of those who hear him go away with a renewed awareness of America's freedoms and a greater appreciation of the sacrifices which have been made to preserve those freedoms.