World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Jack Shearer, of Mount Joy, was part of the Sino-American Cooperative Organization, which spied on Japan during the war.

MOUNT JOY, Pa. — A Lancaster County World War II veteran and the last surviving member of an operation that cooperated with Nationalist China to spy on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor celebrated his 100th birthday Tuesday in Mount Joy.

Jack Shearer is the last surviving member of the Sino-American Cooperative Organization, a major covert operation in World War II.

SACO consisted of more than 2,500 American servicemen from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, 97,000 organized Chinese guerillas, and 20,000 “individualists,” including rival pirate groups and lone-wolf saboteurs, according to “The Rice Paddy Navy,” a book on the organization written by Linda Kush in 2012.

“After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy knew it would need vital information from the Pacific,” the book’s description reads. “Nationalist China was particularly well-suited to provide vital information about the Japanese and the Pacific weather patterns.

“Captain Milton ‘Mary’ Miles journeyed to China to set up weather stations and monitor the Chinese coastline-and to spy on the Japanese. After a meeting and a handshake agreement with Chiang Kai-shek’s spymaster, General Dai Li, the Sino-American Cooperative Organization was born.”

SACO was an immense and largely unknown part of the war effort, and was very important to China.

In the 1990s, Chaing Kai-Shek, who was deposed following China’s post-World War II civil war, honored the surviving members of the group with an all-expense-paid reunion in Taiwan and Hawaii, Shearer’s friend, Pete Rozea of Mount Joy, told FOX43.

Shearer is the group’s last surviving member.

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