Jack Risler was born December 26, 1920 in Davenport, Iowa and raised by adoptive parents. Jack married his high school sweetheart (Ruth) Phyllis Dodge at Kingsley Methodist Church on May 22, 1943.
Like many of his generation, Jack volunteered to serve his country by enlisting in the Marine Corps. Sergeant Risler became a parachute instructor and was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services to teach agents how to parachute into enemy territory throughout Europe.
He was subsequently selected to join a top secret Operational Group dubbed UNION II, whose objective was to eliminate Nazis in the high alpine region of Southeastern France by arming and training the French resistance fighters. On August 1, 1944 seventy-eight B-17 bombers from the 388th Bomber Group dropped seven Americans, one Free French officer, and 864 containers loaded with more than 150 tons of weapons and ammunition over Col des Saises, France.
On August 16, 1944 the group was spotted by German Alpine Division troops near the town of Centron and they were quickly surrounded. Although they could have escaped, their commanding officer, Major Peter Ortiz, offered to surrender his troops (they numbered only three at the time: himself, Jack, and Sergeant John Bodnar) on the condition that the village and townspeople remained unharmed.
Jack was held as a prisoner of war at Marlag North for 255 days until the camp was liberated by Allied troops. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and was decorated with the Silver Star and French Legion of Honor Medal for his acts of bravery.
After the war Jack was employed as a salesman for the Dodge Pump Company, WB Rom Pump Company, and at Crane Engineering. He and Phyllis raised two sons.