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Showing posts from June 11, 2016

Just Like Dad, Not in a Good Way: 19 Years, No Retirement

Congressman Joe Pitts
On May 3, I was honorably discharged from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.  I had 19 years and 21 days of service.  At that moment became "Just Like Dad" in a way that my Dad would never have wished on me.  
My father, George Gussman, enlisted in December 1939, at the age of 33 as a private soldier.  He was at the end of his career as a middleweight boxer and a minor league pitcher and decided to enlist.  He was supposed to be discharged in mid-December of 1941, but there were no discharges after December 7.  The next year, the Army sent Dad to Officer Candidate School, partly because he had warehouse experience and partly because he was so old, 36!  Despite leaving school in the 8th grade, Dad studied hard and got commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.  He commanded a maintenance company of Black soldiers at Camp Shenango, Pa., then a German Prisoner of War Camp in Reading, Pa., during the war.
After the war, Dad served in the Army reserve till 1958 when …

Enlistment Extended for the Duration

My father enlisted in the Army in December of 1939.  His enlistment was for just two years.  He was planning to get out in December of 1941.  In a very early version of the infamous Iraq War policy known as "Stop Loss," Dad was "extended for the duration" of the just declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

Dad and thousands of other soldiers in the peacetime Army of 1941 remained on active duty until late 1945 or 1946.

Except for Stop Loss the long Iraq and Afghanistan Wars did not stop discharges after a normal enlistment period of three or four years.  It was another way that these terrible wars were so different from World War 2.

By the time the war ended nearly fifteen million Americans were serving uniform.  Soldiers got leave, rotated home, but the rule was everyone served for the duration.
Among the many things wrong with Iraq, Afghanistan and Viet Nam was the partial commitment.  Even though my Dad never left America, he knew he would be serving until …