A 79-year-old Utah man recently swore his oath of enlistment, nearly six decades after he first joined the Army.
David Jager swore his oath of enlistment on February 20, 2020 at the Utah National Guard headquarters in Draper, Utah, according to an Army statement.
Somehow, when Jager joined the Guard on May 6, 1963 in Salt Lake City, he was never actually sworn in. The then-28-year-old soldier was simply whisked off to basic training at Fort Ord, California, at the height of the Vietnam War.
Jager served for six years in the Guard, with nearly all of that time spent with the 140th Field Artillery Regiment. He was honorably discharged at the rank of staff sergeant.
But the almost-octogenarian won’t be headed back to boot camp or donning his uniform all these decades later. The oath-swearing and signature were essentially performed to fix a clerical error in his military record, according to the statement.
Still, standing there, raising his hand to swear his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, brought tears to his eyes and a shake to his voice.
“It’s an honor,” Jager said afterward as he wiped away tears. “I love the uniform. I love the flag.”
Jager is likely the oldest enlistee in Utah Guard history, according to the statement. But he’s in good company. Another older-than-typical soldier also rejoined the ranks, and will participate in basic combat training.
Army Times reported in January that Staff Sgt. Monte L. Gould reenlisted in the Army Reserve, and due to a 10-year break in service, the 59-year-old Marine veteran, Army civil affairs soldier and Afghanistan veteran would once again be at the mercy of Army drill sergeants.
Gould was three years shy of retirement eligibility when he left the Army in 2009 for family demands. Once the California resident completes training, he’ll be assigned to the 405th Civil Affairs Battalion detachment in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though he’s far from the traditional age for basic training, he’s also not the oldest. Branch officials told Army Times that in July 1999 a 68-year-old enlistee also attended basic training.