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55-Year-Old Soldier Joins Army, Graduates From Basic Combat Training
NBC Bay Area ^ | Thursday, May 29, 2014 | Riya Bhattacharjee

Posted on 05/29/2014 4:09:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Sgt. 1st Class John Taffe might be the oldest person to graduate from basic combat training.

Sgt. 1st Class John Taffe may be 55 years old, but he definitely doesn’t act his age.

That’s because Taffe may possibly be the oldest person to graduate from basic combat training – tackling sit-ups, push-ups and barbed-wire low crawls like any other young soldier in his class.

A resident of Alameda, Taffe graduated from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Thursday after a demanding 2 1/2-month training. He’s a former sailor, having served 14 years with the U.S. Navy before being released from active duty in 1991.

Taffe’s age almost stopped him from enlisting in the Army, but he made the cut-off, getting in 36 hours before his 55th birthday, when a waiver would have been required.

NSA Releases Email Snowden Sent to Agency Officials “My son told me, ‘I hope they crush you.’ My daughter was more concerned,” Taffe said of his family’s reaction to his decision to re-enlist. “My plan is to serve until I’m 62.”

“For John to come back at his age, it says a lot about his character,” said Shatara Seymour, chief of public affairs at Fort Leonard Wood.

Taffe is back in the Bay Area Friday, where he will join the Army Reserve and go back to his job as a logistics management specialist for the Department of Homeland Security.

Right after he finished a night crawl while live shots were fired over his head, NBC Bay Area caught up with Taffe to ask him what boot camp felt like at age 55.

When was the exact moment you realized that you wanted to return to the Military?

"After 9/11 I really felt compelled to rejoin the military, but the organization I worked for was not supportive of the idea. It wasn't until almost 14 years later that the opportunity presented itself again while I was exploring other positions within the government. At this time my only choice was the U.S. Army due to my age."

What inspired you to return?

"Serving as a military member is the most unique way to pay it forward for those you love, those you honor, and those who have been lost and couldn't return home. It is the most honorable way for an individual to serve his or her country."

How did your family react?

"A degree of shock at first, but when they saw my commitment and drive to making it a reality, they knew it was the right decision."

How did you prepare yourself?

"I consulted with my doctor, completely changed my diet and eating habits, ramped up my exercise routine, running further and faster almost every day, joined a Cross Fit gym and rode to work every day on my bicycle."

How did others in boot camp react when they saw you training? How do they react now?

"Older people would come up to me and ask my age, and tell me they couldn't/wouldn't dream of doing what I was doing. The younger ones wanted to know if I was human or if I had discovered the fountain of youth. They all say I am an inspiration to them now and that if you get your mind and body right you can achieve anything"

You mentioned culture change and how younger soldiers have a different attitude now. Can you elaborate?

"The military they perceive is like a video game, when in fact it is very far from it. It requires real effort, both physical and mental strength to win in battle. You can't win by how well you can manipulate a game controller."

What is boot camp like?

"Up at 04:00, shave, conduct physical training for about 1.5 hours until breakfast, then it's off to the ranges to conduct live fire training with our weapon. MRE for lunch, continue training until 17-18:00, dinner, back to training after dinner until final formation at 20:30. Then shower, laundry, letter writing and bed by 21:00. Up again for a one hour watch detail between 21:00 - 04:00."

What was the hardest part of your training?

"The physical stuff wasn’t so hard, it was almost too easy. The mental part was hard – just trying to cope with the different things."

Did you feel like quitting at any point?

"At first I did question my thought process that brought me here. I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, just like the lines of the Soldier’s Creed I learned here in the first couple of weeks."

What do you plan to do next?

"Go home to my family and job."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; US: California; US: Missouri
KEYWORDS: alameda; army; johntaffe; missouri

1 posted on 05/29/2014 4:09:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Wow, but I thought the cutoff was at 35? So you can join even at 55?


2 posted on 05/29/2014 4:11:31 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans (I mostly come out at night... mostly.)
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

For the Army I believe it’s 42.


3 posted on 05/29/2014 4:12:42 PM PDT by Antihero101607
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To: nickcarraway

In order to protect Obama, they excised the KEY reason he re-joined; he and his wife didn’t have enough money to send their two kids in college.

JUST IMAGINE the heavy emphasis that detail otherwise would have received, had a REPUBLICAN been Prez;

They would have been screaming it over and over again.

But here, they dress everything up in bows and sprinkle a quart of perfume all over it.


4 posted on 05/29/2014 4:16:22 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: gaijin

Don’t forget about the way they treated higher unemployment rates after Obama was first immaculate;

They CONGRADULATED him on his genius in HELPING FAMILIES SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER.

They gushed louder even that Kim Jong Un’s frenzied acolytes….!

The presstitutes DIVE to their knees wearing KFC bibs and beg to gulp down His Majesty’s essence.


5 posted on 05/29/2014 4:19:59 PM PDT by gaijin
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A thread from yesterday if anyone is reading the comments thereon:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3161129/posts


6 posted on 05/29/2014 4:20:54 PM PDT by deport
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

From the article:

Taffe’s age almost stopped him from enlisting in the Army, but he made the cut-off,
getting in 36 hours before his 55th birthday, when a waiver would have been required


7 posted on 05/29/2014 4:21:50 PM PDT by deport
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To: Antihero101607

There’s some guys aged 60+ years old in Ukraine fighting against the Russians/Chechens who are invading their homeland. If there is a will, there is a way. Good on patriots like this!


8 posted on 05/29/2014 4:22:36 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans (I mostly come out at night... mostly.)
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To: nickcarraway

What a mensch!


9 posted on 05/29/2014 4:24:53 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: deport

Age requirements:

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/enlage.htm


10 posted on 05/29/2014 4:25:39 PM PDT by deport
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

No you can’t just join at 55, but he had served 14 years in the Navy, so that 14 was deducted from 55 giving him the chance to continue his military service without asking for an age waiver, that may not have been granted. All years completed with completed points for retirement are recognized as years completed.

A reservist can collect a pension at age 60 if they have served 20 years. He was able to get in under the wire using his 14 years, and save his chance for a pension later. Albeit that pension will be smaller than a full time military personnel. His twenty years will be finished at age 62, hence his statement that he would stay until age 62..and that is how it works.


11 posted on 05/29/2014 4:26:47 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: Kackikat

That is exactly what he was trying to get accomplished. Another article I read indicated they had children who they wanted to help in college. So getting 6 more years would help his retirement.


12 posted on 05/29/2014 4:33:25 PM PDT by deport
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To: deport

There are people who have lost their jobs that would have given the a good retirement, and those with his kind of good years in military do have a chance to get some kind of retirement by going into one of the forces.... if they aren’t too old. I wish him well.


13 posted on 05/29/2014 4:36:19 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: Kackikat

Regardless of the reason why he did it, if Army boot camp is anywhere near as tough as it was in 1973, he’s one tough SOB.


14 posted on 05/29/2014 4:39:14 PM PDT by EandH Dad (sleeping giants wake up REALLY grumpy)
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To: nickcarraway

He may be in better shape than some of the youngsters that sit around all day playing video games.


15 posted on 05/29/2014 4:39:16 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: EandH Dad

Agreed.


16 posted on 05/29/2014 4:41:52 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: Kackikat

The impetus for giving up his comfortable life by the bay was mostly financial. He and
his wife were going over the family’s budget last year and saw the cost of college tuition
for their two teenagers looming before them. Taffe had already spent 14 years with
the Navy, and by adding another six years with the Reserve he could greatly increase
his benefits, he said.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Soldier-55-about-to-graduate-from-combat-basic-5510831.php


17 posted on 05/29/2014 4:44:16 PM PDT by deport
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To: nickcarraway

Where do we find such men?


18 posted on 05/29/2014 4:48:30 PM PDT by pfflier
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To: pfflier

Alameda


19 posted on 05/29/2014 4:54:07 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: deport

I don’t understand why people do not have their teens start in community college as all degrees require what is known as core courses and they are basically the same no matter where you take them...advanced math, history/geography, social science, and actual sciences like biology etc... The total is about 44 credit hours and then transfer to University debt free, it also give parents two-three more years to save...

Community College will save about half on a college degree as it is very inexpensive. I think it is a better education because you rarely get a political nut case for a Professor. And the kicker is that most employers only care where you got the actual Major/Minor classes for the Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree/Doctorate. It’s a win win for parent and student..it also keeps the teen at home two more years until they are more mature and really are sure where they are headed....many change their minds within two years after high school anyway.


20 posted on 05/29/2014 4:56:17 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: nickcarraway

Cool story, I was roommates with a former Viet Nam era Navy vet that Enlisted into the Army as an E-5. He was in his early 40’s when I knew him. Similar story, he couldn’t make ends meat where he lived, had 8 or 10 years service on the books already so said “What the hell!”

I tried to enlist in the Air Force and Navy after 4 years in the Army and they wouldn’t touch me. Strangely, I could have joined the Air Guard and then went active Air Farce. I actually ended up retiring out of Air National Guard.


21 posted on 05/29/2014 5:08:23 PM PDT by Tailback
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To: nickcarraway

I’m 55 and sometimes wish I was still in the Navy. I couldn’t hack it now. But after retiring 16 years ago (hit high-year tenure) I now do the next best thing.....I provide technical assistance to the ships. I work every day with our sailors and am daily impressed by them.

I am proud of MY Navy.


22 posted on 05/29/2014 5:13:40 PM PDT by fredhead (Join the Navy and see the world.....77% of which is covered in water.)
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To: nickcarraway

I wonder how he picked up Sergeant First Class? Must have been a CPO when he left the Navy.

I have nearly 12 years service (both active & reserve) and turn 52 this year. Wonder if I could get in the Army reserves? Doubtful.


23 posted on 05/29/2014 5:45:45 PM PDT by FortWorthPatriot ("If this be treason, make the most of it." - Patrick Henry, 30 May 1765)
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To: nickcarraway; blueyon; KitJ; T Minus Four; xzins; CMS; The Sailor; ab01; txradioguy; Jet Jaguar; ...

Active Duty ping.


24 posted on 05/29/2014 5:55:37 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar (Resist in place.)
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To: nickcarraway

When I was at Fort Knox, I was in OSUT with a guy who had been in the Army, got out and then re enlisted. He had to do Basic Training a second time. We asked him how it was the second time around. He said it sucked. I believe him.


25 posted on 05/29/2014 6:25:49 PM PDT by Redcitizen (Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.)
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

42 plus your years of prior service I believe. He could not have done this as a first enlistment.


26 posted on 05/29/2014 8:05:59 PM PDT by RipSawyer
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To: Kackikat
Albeit that pension will be smaller than a full time military personnel.

I do not know how much smaller, but when I first started collecting my full time military pension, it was a whopping $761 a month. COLAs have made it $1,400 a month, but I would not do it again as an enlisted man. As an officer I would, but not as enlisted. It was hard serving under Jimmy Carter. I can not imagine how awful it is, serving under the Obungler, and it will be as bad or worse, serving under the Hildebeast after that.

27 posted on 05/29/2014 9:46:22 PM PDT by Mark17 (Chicago Blackhawks: Stanley Cup champions 2010, 2013. Vietnam Vet 70-71 Msgt US Air Force, retired)
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To: nickcarraway

I’m confused. If he just completed basic combat infantry training how is he a Sergeant First Class (E-7)? Took me 12 years to make that grade.


28 posted on 05/30/2014 12:13:01 PM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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