Theodore's World: At 41 Off To Basic Training

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April 12, 2006

At 41 Off To Basic Training

Vineland's Jerry Giordano tried three times to enlist.
Twice he was rejected as too old.
But finally he'll get to fulfill his dream.

Jerry Giordano was turned down when he tried to join the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was 36 then. The limit for military recruits was 35.

Now the resident of Vineland, Cumberland County (NJ), is 41, and the Army has decided to welcome him into the ranks.

The age limit was raised to 42 in January to bolster recruitment, and that - plus the help of a congressman and an Army age waiver - cleared the way for him to leave April 20 for basic training.

"I feel like I did when I was a kid," said Giordano, a supervisor at the Limpert Bros. factory in Vineland, which makes ice cream toppings.
"When you're a teen, you look forward to driving a car, being able to drink, graduating from school. When you get to my age, there's nothing to look forward to."

Yesterday, Giordano said he was planning a new life as an Army medic.

Entering the military at 41 is rare. Although this year's National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the services to accept active-duty recruits as old as 42, the Army usually cuts off recruiting at 40 - but sometimes makes exceptions to fill medical positions, said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky.

"There has been an effort to broaden the pool of potential enlistees," Smith said yesterday. Older "people are in better shape these days, so the age limit was increased. It took legislation to make the change for the active Army."

The Army's waiver for Giordano apparently took into account his motivation and desire for medical training, Smith said.

No statistics were available on how many enlistees older than 40 the Army has accepted since the age increase.

Steven Silver, 61, director of the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center's post-traumatic stress disorder center, also is seeking to enter the military.

Silver, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who lives in Coatesville, said he hoped to fill a psychologist's position in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and serve in Iraq.

He said yesterday that he expected to find out by June whether the Army had granted him an age waiver.

But Giordano's long wait is over. He said he was finally doing what he had set out to do when he was 18.

"I took the test then to be a Marine, but my family didn't want me to go in," said Giordano, who is married and has children. "I was an only child."
Entering the military is "fulfilling a lifetime dream," he added. "It's an adventure. I feel like a kid again. When 9/11 happened, that gave me the incentive to do something. I wanted to be involved."

Giordano said he had continued trying to get into the military even after being turned down the first time.

When the Army raised the age limit for reservists to 40 in March 2005, he thought he had another chance. Maybe he could get in under the wire while the service was trying boost sagging recruitment.

Giordano was turned down again and "felt hurt" and frustrated.

When the age limit was raised two more years, Giordano applied for active duty. He was accepted, he said, after U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) intervened with the Army. LoBiondo was visiting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday and unavailable for comment.

"It's been an uphill climb," Giordano said, "but I've been extremely motivated."

After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he will learn to become a medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

"They need medics all over the place," Giordano said. "I don't know where I would be deployed, but I'd like to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. I want to help. I want to do something."

Wild Thing's comment......
God bless you Jerry and stay safe!

Posted by Wild Thing at April 12, 2006 12:47 AM


WAY TO GO JERRY!!!!!!!!!!

Next time pick a less cushy job you hear.

I'M KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sitting here getting all lumpy throated over this.

OOOO-RAH dude. Another battlefield angel on the way.

May God bless you and watch over you and your family in Joisy while you are gone.


(Thanks for that Chrissie.)

Posted by: SparkS at April 12, 2006 02:07 AM

Hi SparkS I love stories like this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 12, 2006 09:14 AM

What a sharp contrast to all the young, healthy American males who have no thought of ever serving to pay for the freedoms they enjoy. The recruiting stations should be overwhelmed with applicants.

Posted by: TomR at April 12, 2006 05:34 PM

Yea! A Jersey guy! We not only grow the best tomatoes, we grow the toughest guys!
Way to go, Jerry! Give 'em some Jersey hell!

Posted by: gregor at April 12, 2006 07:50 PM

You and me both Chrissie! Heck, they raise the age another 20 years and I'll sign up again myself!.

gregor, I hate to disillusion yah dude but everyone knows the toughest guys come from PA. Perry Como, Johnny Unitas, Arnold Palmer, for just a few. GGGGGG

Posted by: SparkS at April 13, 2006 12:19 AM

Tom I agree, I am soooooo proud of those that are serving our country.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 13, 2006 03:28 AM

Gregor, YUM yes they are good tomatoes. I like that (big smile on my face) your give em Jersey Hell. Yesssss!

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 13, 2006 03:30 AM

SparkS hahaha Perry Como I remember that guy.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 13, 2006 03:31 AM