Ah, the good old days of basic training where the drill sergeant would yell in your face for infractions you didn’t even know you had committed. While boot camp is an invaluable experience for any service member, no one ever wants to do it a second time. Neither did Monte Gould, who really had no choice but to repeat the experience with the Army Basic Training Course at the age of 59.
Far from a beginner
In 1978 Gould enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served for three years. He became a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles and when the Gulf War broke out in 1992 he joined the National Guard as an infantryman and sniper. remaining in the Guard, he deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Asia. Gould tried to join Special Forces Evaluation and Selection in the early 2000s when he was around 40, but was told he was too old. But that didn’t deter him, so he instead joined an Army Reserve unit in Upland, Calif., where he was accepted and deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 as a team sergeant. civil affairs with the French frogmen, the forces of Commando Hubert. He also served with the 7th Psychological Operations Group at Moffett Field, California. In 2009 he returned to civilian life and his wife couldn’t be happier. Gould left the Guard in 2009 and returned to law enforcement. He was about three years away from retirement.
A way back in the army, then hurry up and wait
After 11 years as a civilian again, Gould decided he still had a desire to do more for his country and tried to join the army reserves. He found that he would have to lose 45 pounds to meet the weight requirement. He was, once again, initially rejected by the military as too old. And again, he didn’t take no for an answer. After a phone call with his congressman and a friend from the Pentagon, his papers were rolling, but it took several hundred rolling papers, four induction physicals, and 14 months before he got permission to join. When he went to sign his contract he was told that a change in regulations meant he would have to start training camp again as a staff sergeant, his first reaction was, “What are you talking about -you?” recalling that he didn’t have to go back to basic training the last time he served in 2004. That was a good enough reason to give up and return to civilian life, but Gould still decided to sign on the dotted line.
One of the main motivating factors for SSgt Gould to go back was that his son was in the military serving in the Las Vegas Detachment of the 405and Civil Affairs Battalion, and he wanted to serve alongside it. He also wanted to complete about two more years to complete his retirement. Finally, he wanted one more chance to serve before age and decay finally took their toll on his body.
When he arrived at the Fort Jackson boot camp in Columbia, South Carolina, he was surrounded by recruits aged 17 to 19 who would see him as an inspiration. If he can do it at his age, why not them? And he received no special treatment, beyond separate accommodation, since he rejoined the army as a non-commissioned officer.
When asked how his experience compared to Marine Corps boot camp in 1978, he said:
“Just completely different. One, I was in the Marines, and this is the Army. And two is 43 years later. The context is this. It would be like taking a guy who went through Marine Corps boot camp in 1944 and putting him back in boot camp in 1986.”
He passed all the physical exercises, the written tests and the practical application tests and even finished in the top 10% of his training cycle. In August 2020, he graduated as the oldest recruit in the current Army Basic Training Combat. For Gould, he was just glad to finally be out of there. According to AARP, he is now stationed in Las Vegas in the same unit with his son. You can watch it here:
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