55-year-old Soldier Graduates Basic Training
FORT LEONARD WOOD - A 55-year-old Army Sergeant graduated from Basic Combat Training Thursday after 10 weeks of drilling in south-central Missouri.
John Taffe's military career began in 1977 with the U.S. Navy. He served 14 years as an explosive ordinance disposal technician, diver, parachutist and instructor. When Taffe was released from active duty in 1991, he held the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
He was exploring a job with the State Department when he decided to join the U.S. Army Reserve.
"I want to get back in the fight," he said, "honor those who couldn't come home and finish what I started in 1977."
Thursday, Taffe graduated with the second highest physical fitness test score in his company: 331 out of a possible 300, having earned extra points.
The picture below shows him doing a low crawl under a barbed wire obstacle during Basic Training.
Taffe started Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood in March.
At the beginning of training, Taffe said other soldiers were confused by his presence.
Sergeant 1st Class Jeremy Karr, commander from the recruiting center in Alameda, California, said, "I don't think I have ever sent a soldier to Basic Combat Training who could outrank his drill sergeants."
Taffe said, "Because of my age and rank, I felt like I had to prove myself a little more in some cases."
The photo below shows Taffe before his graduation.
He joined the reserve just in time, too.
Karr said, "John Taffe enlisted with roughly 36 hours remaining before his age would have become a show stopper."
Taffe remembers pushing the clock to join.
"I spent six days at a military entrance processing station working my way over the hurdles," he said.
Karr said working to get Taffe in the reserve was worth it, calling him "an ideal recruit due to his motivation to continue serving his country."
When he returns home to California, Taffe plans to become active with his reserve unit and return to work as a security specialist at the U.S. Coast Guard in Alameda.