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Smither, James (Interviewer)

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Gellert, John

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John Gellert was born on October 20, 1988, in Würzburg, Germany, into a military family which constantly moved around. Gellert graduated high school in Virginia in 2006 and attended some college before deciding he wanted a more challenging career. He enlisted into the Army in 2011 to be an infantryman. Gellert was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, for a collective fourteen weeks of basic and advanced basic training. After graduating basic training, he was immediately transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was assigned to a mechanized, light armored Striker Unit in Attack Company 21 Infantry Legion, which he later deployed to Afghanistan with in 2012. Stationed at Terranova Company Outpost near Kandahar City, his Company’s duties were to partner with the Afghani military and local police cells, guiding them to assume control of their local districts without American intervention. His Company was then stationed at Zari Company Outpost, nearer to the Taliban’s bases of operation, and his peers were more frequently shot at even though Gellert himself never experienced ground combat. This first deployment lasted nine months. For his second deployment in 2014, Gellert received promotion to Sergeant and spent the next three years in Germany with Fox Troop, 22 Cavalry Regiment, in Vilseck. His unit primarily participated in NATO and other international military training programs or maneuvers. While in Europe, Gellert did spend considerable time traveling the continent, conversing with local people, and observing historical sights, which he enjoyed greatly. By the time he returned from Germany, Gellert’s deployment had ended, and he left the service in 2017, despite giving some thought towards staying in the Army longer. Instead, he wanted to complete his college education and was soon admitted to Grand Valley State University for a degree in nursing. Reflecting upon his service, Gellert believed the Army instilled in him a persistent work ethic, coupled with a newfound inner drive. He was also fond of the supportive, brotherly relationships he built with the other soldiers of his former units, bonds which he still maintains and cherishes as a positive outcome of his service.

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Veterans History Project collection, (RHC-27)