Ah, the good ole’ basic training days when 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 servicemember nobody 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’s Basic Training Course at the tender age of 59.

Far From Being A First-Timer

Screen captured from AARP/ Youtube

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 the Special Forces Assessment and Selection in the early 2000s when he was around 40 years old, but he was told he was too old. But that did not discourage him, so he instead joined through an Army Reserve unit in Upland, California, where he was accepted and got deployed in Afghanistan in 2004 as a civil affairs team sergeant along with France’s frogmen, Commando Hubert forces. He also served in the 7th Psychological Operations Group in Moffett Field, California. In 2009, he went back to civilian life, and his wife couldn’t be happier. Gould left the Guard in 2009 and returned to law enforcement. He was just about three years short of retirement.

A Way Back Into The Army, Then Hurry Up And Wait

After 11 years as a civilian again Gould decided that he still had the 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 Army as too old. And again, he didn’t take no for an answer. After a phone calls with his congressman and a friend in the Pentagon, his papers were rolling, but it took several hundred pieces of rolling papers, four induction physicals, and 14 months before he got permission to even join. When he went to sign his contract was told that a change in regulations meant he would have to repeat boot camp all over again as a Staff Sergeant, his first reaction was, “What are you talking about?” recalling that he didn’t have to go back to basic training the last time that he served in 2004. It was a pretty good reason to give up and go back to civilian life but Gould decided to sign on the dotted line anyway.

A prime motivating factor for SSgt Gould to go back was that his son was in the Army serving in the Las Vegas detachment of the 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, and he wanted to serve alongside him. He also wanted to complete about two more years to complete his retirement. Finally, he wanted one more chance to serve before age and decrepitude finally took its toll on his body.

Finally Back

Monte Gould. Photo from (www.wamilitary.com)

When he arrived at boot camp in Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, he was surrounded by 17 to 19-year-old recruits who would see him as an inspiration. If he can do it at his age, why can’t they? And he didn’t get any sort of special treatment, beyond separate housing given that he reentered the Army as a non-commissioned officer.

When asked about how his experience compared to the Marine Corps boot camp in 1978, he said:

“Just completely different. One, I was in the Marines, and this is the Army. And two, it is 43 years later. The context is this. It’d be like taking a guy that went through Marine Corps boot camp in 1944 and putting him back in boot camp in 1986.”

He passed all the physical exercises, written tests, and practical application tests and even finished in the top 10% of his training cycle. In August 2020, he graduated as the oldest-ever recruit of the Army’s current Basic Training Combat. For Gould, he was just glad that he was finally out of there. According to AARP, he is now stationed in Las Vegas in the same unit with his son. You can watch him here: