Military Traditions

April 14, 2020 By Gilberta Pierson


A Paradise Valley Estates friend recently asked me, “Why did I see you at the Marine Corps Birthday Dinner? Wasn’t your husband a pilot in the Air Force?”

The question stirred me to think about the fact that many of us have family connections to several military services. This is probably due to the fact that three major wars have been fought in many of our lifetimes: World War II, the “Korean Police Action,” the war in Vietnam, and countless other “skirmishes.”

Yes, my husband, Joe Guth, was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, flying combat in the Korean War. But, when he joined that service, it was called the U.S. Army Air Corps, until it became the U.S. Air Force in 1947. How was he connected with the Marine Corps? He was assigned as an exchange pilot at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. It was an 18-month tour of duty during which he qualified to fly off aircraft carriers — an assignment he called the most thrilling of his flying career.

Four years after Joe passed away, I found love again and married his lifelong friend, Howard Pierson. Howard, too, had an Air Force career as a combat fighter pilot. But his first military experience was with the U.S. Navy. During World War II he left high school “because everyone was going.” He served on the USS Iowa, and celebrated his eighteenth birthday aboard that battleship, returning to high school when the war ended. He received a football/ROTC scholarship with the University of Alabama, went to pilot school, and served as a combat pilot in both Korea and Vietnam.

This all qualifies our family for connections with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Going back to my family of origin, I had seven uncles, all brothers. Six of them served in World War II. Four were in the Army, one was in the Air Force and one was a Navy Seabee. Gratefully, every one of them returned after the war.

So far, our family qualifies for connections with four of the armed services. But wait a minute. Could we possibly count Joe’s brother, Jack Guth? He was a Captain in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, commanding a “survey ship,” and wearing the officer’s uniform of the U.S. Navy. The USC&G originally was its own separate military service. It was abolished on October 3, 1970, and became part of the Environmental Services Administrative Corps, which supports and provides surveys for the U.S. Coast Guard and other entities.

All this boils down to a mindset in our family, which I think so many of us here at PVE share. The pride, respect and honor with which we hold our military services is deeply embedded in us, to the extent that whenever we hear any one of our services’ songs being played, you’ll see us join in the rendition with our “mature” voices, and, possibly, with dampened eyes.


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