The Pittsburgh Press (August 10, 1941)
SERGEANT, 72, ARMY’S OLDEST MAN, RE-ENLISTS
White-haired, erect, he hopes for chance to 'poke Hitler in nose’
Selfridge Field, Mich. Aug. 9 (UP) –
Gnarled and oaken 72-year-old Sergeant John W. Westervelt, oldest man in the United States Army, today re-enlisted for the seventh time, hoping for a chance to:
…poke Hitler in the nose.
Hoary-haired but erect, Sergeant Westervelt re-enlisted as a supply sergeant at the Selfridge Air Corps Base after 24 hours of civilian life and approximately 20 minutes before he began a 15-day furlough. He was discharged yesterday from the Army which he had served continuously for 25 years.
The soft-spoken officer first entered the armed forces in 1899 at Newburgh, NY, 12 miles from West Point when he joined the National Guard. During his 17 years as a Guardsmen, he assisted as a master electrician at West Point.
Sergeant Westervelt said:
They wouldn’t let me fight in the Spanish-American War because of my lack of teeth. But they were glad to take me in the draft in the World War.
I didn’t get across and I was pretty mad about it. I’ve kinda outgrown the desire to go across mow, but I’d like to get a chance to poke Hitler in the nose.
Sergeant Westervelt refused to comment on the possibility of the United States’ entry into a “shooting” war.
But we’d be ready for anything. These new draftees are tougher and smarter than the ones in the last war. Men don’t grow beards anymore but they’re tough.