His military buddies call him “father time” and “ol’ man river.” But even at age 44 -- and the oldest in his unit -- they really can’t knock Army Specialist Jerry Giordano.
“Where the kids may be a little bit physically faster, I know where the shortcuts are,” Giordano said during an interview Friday with NBC 10 News.
The Vineland, N.J. native and father of three was given a send-off party Thursday evening, prior to the start of a year-long deployment to Iraq starting in January. It is a mission he embraces, which follows a personal battle just to get there.
“It’s been a struggle,” Giordano said.
Here’s why. When Giordano tried to enlist in the Army following the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was told, at 35, he was too old. But he refused to give up.
It took nearly five years, lots of phone calls and emails to federal lawmakers, and a couple of law changes, before Giordano was finally allowed to join the military at the age of 41.
“It’s a vindication because there were so many people that said never in a million years,” he said. “If you’re persistent and you keep going after it, it’s attainable.”
As a combat medic, Giordano will tend to the wounded in Iraq -- he admitted he is nervous. His wife is too, but also said she is excited for him.
“I know there are a lot of people that probably think, ‘Why would you want him to go? Why would you let him do this?’ But, I stand behind him whatever he wants to do,” Cyndi Giordano said.
The Giordanos will soon leave their loved ones in Cumberland County and return to Jerry’s base at Ft. Benning, Ga. He expects to be promoted to sergeant once on Iraqi soil. It will mark a rise in rank for a guy who would not let his age keep him down.
“I think that me doing this may help some other people who may think they can’t do anything,” he said.