Exploring “The Bridge to Victory” by Beth C. Moroney

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The remarkable life of Jay H. Dakelman is beautifully chronicled in the book “The Bridge to Victory” by Beth C. Moroney. This biography takes readers on a journey through history, courage, and relentless determination. From his heroic contributions during World War II to his influential career as a Physical Education teacher and coach, Jay’s story is one of unwavering dedication and inspiring achievements. Join us as we delve into this compelling narrative and uncover the untold stories of a true American hero.

Part I: Jay H. Dakelman’s War Heroism

Introduction to Jay H. Dakelman: Jay H. Dakelman served as a combat medic with the 86th Pontoon Division of the First Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. His role was not only critical but also perilous, as he and his unit were responsible for building the pontoon bridges that were vital to the American Army’s success on the European front.

The Vital Role of Pontoon Bridges: Pontoon bridges were essential for the movement of troops and supplies across rivers and other obstacles. The 86th Pontoon Division’s work ensured that the Allied forces could advance and maintain their momentum. Their efforts were crucial in several key operations, making their contribution indispensable to the war effort.

Harrowing Experiences and Bravery: Jay and his unit faced numerous challenges and dangers as they constructed these bridges under enemy fire. Their bravery and resilience were remarkable, and Jay’s actions earned him numerous medals across five major battles. These stories of courage highlight the incredible sacrifices made by these men and underscore the significance of their contributions to the war.

Transition to Civilian Life

Return Home: After the war, Jay returned home to start a new chapter in his life. Like many veterans, he faced the challenges of adjusting to civilian life and finding a new purpose after the intense experiences of the battlefield.

Part II: Jay Dakelman’s Educational Legacy

Becoming an Educator and Coach: Jay chose to become a Physical Education teacher, dedicating 47 years to Highland Park High School. His passion for sports and commitment to his students made him a beloved figure in the community.

Innovative Coaching and Advocacy: Known for his visionary approach to athletics, Jay achieved an impressive record of championships. He was a strong advocate for women’s sports and worked tirelessly to promote higher education for students of color. His pioneering ideas and relentless dedication transformed the athletic programs at Highland Park High School and set new standards for excellence and inclusivity.

Recognition and Awards: In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Jay was named the National Athletic Director of the Year in 1982. This accolade was a testament to his enduring impact on his students and the broader community.

Jay Dakelman’s Enduring Legacy

Influence on Coaches, Athletes, and Educators: Jay’s influence extends far beyond his tenure at Highland Park High School. Coaches, athletes, and educators across New Jersey and beyond continue to be inspired by his methods and dedication. Testimonials from those who knew him attest to the profound effect he had on their lives and careers.

Broader Impact: Jay’s advocacy for inclusivity in sports and education helped shape a more equitable and forward-thinking approach to athletics. His legacy is a powerful reminder of the impact one person can have on their community and beyond.


Jay H. Dakelman’s remarkable life and legacy are masterfully captured in the book “The Bridge to Victory” by Beth C. Moroney. This biography is not only a tribute to a war hero but also a celebration of a man who dedicated his life to excellence and inclusivity in sports and education. Jay’s story is a testament to the power of courage, determination, and the enduring impact of a life well-lived.

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