Ames honors Memorial Day with speech from local veteran


Capt. Jake Dobberke, a retired United States Marine who grew up in Ames, was the main speaker at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Ames Municipal Cemetery on May 26.

Greg Zwiers

The Ames Memorial Day parade traveled from City Hall to the Ames Municipal Cemetery, where Capt. Jake Dobberke, a retired Marine, was the main speaker.

Dobberke was injured while on tour in Afghanistan. While on an escort mission in Afghanistan, his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Dobberke’s injuries resulted in the loss of both of his legs below the knee.

Dobberke grew up in Ames, attending Sawyer Elementary and graduating from Ames High School and Iowa State University. Dobberke majored in business management with a minor in military studies at Iowa State. He was also in Naval ROTC.

Ames Mayor Ann Campbell gave a welcoming address to the crowd gathered on an open lawn in the cemetery. She said this is the first year she can remember having someone who grew up in Ames speak on Memorial Day.

Dobberke spoke about entitlement and how many critics call younger generations lazy and entitled.

“I have heard the word entitlement used in a belittling context and I have heard it used to describe todays generation in a negative way,” Dobberke said. “There are people in our country who question the freedom we fight for and there are people who doubt our commitment.”

He said that he has heard many say today’s generation is looking for a handout and is not willing to work hard for its success. Dobberke said he has seen exactly the opposite in his life, both in and outside the military.

“I was surrounded by people who care about our country and care about where it goes, and they work hard and they sacrifice,” Dobberke said.

When Dobberke was injured, he was on an advisory team with the primary goal of training Afghan soldiers and officers so the military of Afghanistan could execute it’s own missions.

After Dobberke’s vehicle was attacked, he first made sure that the convoy knew there were casualties on his team before tying tourniquets on both of his legs.

He required surgeries to fix a broken elbow, and a torn ACL as well as the amputation of his legs. Dobberke said he still sees the battlefield he left almost three years ago in intense detail.

“These scars of sacrifice were formed while in the pursuit of giving another country a chance for their own freedom,” Dobberke said.

He said whenever he hears people questioning the conviction and work ethic of his generation, he answers by asking them when the last time they spoke to a veteran was.

Campbell said Dobberke’s speech was certainly moving.  She said her children were at Ames High School at the same time as him and it was amazing to hear about his sacrifices. 

“What is the right of the fallen and what have they earned? What are the fallen entitled to? The answer is simple: thank them, honor them, pray for peace,” Dobberke said to conclude his speech. 

Dobberke is enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Minnesota and works full time as the production manager at LeJeune Steel Company. He and his wife have an eight-month old daughter.