Panzer Exchange associate looks back on military career spanning 3 wars

Jack Goldman, 90, has a military career spanning three decades and deployments during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Today, Goldman continues his service to his country and the military community by working as a cashier at the Panzer Exchange. AAFES photo.

Jack Goldman, 90, has a military career spanning three decades and deployments during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Today, Goldman continues his service to his country and the military community by working as a cashier at the Panzer Exchange. AAFES photo.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service Public Affairs

Most people who encounter Jack Goldman know him only as a cashier at the Panzer Exchange—little do they know the stories that ripple under the surface from a military career spanning three decades and as many major wars.

Goldman, now 90, enlisted in the U.S. Army on Oct. 25, 1944. He had just turned 18 and was eager to contribute to the effort to defeat Hitler’s Germany and an Imperial Japan. He wanted to enlist earlier but was unable to get his parents to sign papers allowing him to enlist at age 17.

“When I was in high school, the big heroes were the guys who would come back to school in a uniform,” he said. “Every male student was chomping at the bit, anxious to get going.”

First, Goldman was deployed to Austria, which was under Allied occupation following the fall of Nazi Germany. He was assigned to the border with Germany, where his platoon monitored the huge influx of POWs and displaced Germans pouring back into the country.

“As I recall, the devastation in Germany was unbelievable,” Goldman said. “You drove through Frankfurt, and it was just block after block of mounds of rubble. There were some cities that weren’t touched, like Heidelberg, but any major cities were pretty well leveled.”

Goldman then left the Army in November 1946, taking a four-year break in the reserves before being called back to active duty in September 1950. He was deployed to Korea, where he manned the border between the newly fractured North and South Koreas as part of the 24th Infantry Division for 13 months.

“It was somewhat the same [as WWII], but I think there was more of a sense of urgency because of the tension between North and South Korea,” he said. “During duty in Austria, Austria and Germany weren’t at war. Here, there was more of a feeling that something could happen.”

Opting to remain active duty after Korea, Goldman’s next deployment came in 1967, when he was shipped out to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. In 1971, he deployed to Vietnam a second time at the U.S. Army headquarters in Saigon.

“I never really was in combat [in Vietnam],” Goldman said. “It was more of a readiness force than anything. In Saigon, we were in a major headquarters. It was almost like stateside duty, to be honest. You lived well and you had nice facilities.”

Goldman’s last duty station was at the VII Corps headquarters in Stuttgart, West Germany, where he took his retirement in November 1978 at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4. Shortly after, he established the first ROTC program at Stuttgart American High School, where he remained as an ROTC instructor for the next 31 years.

After retiring from the school, Goldman looked to work at the Exchange not only as a way to stay busy, but to continue serving the military community.

“You see people coming through the register quite regularly, so every so often you run into someone who was in the ROTC program when you first started it at the high school, and they’ve already retired,” Goldman said. “Many times they’re field grade officers, many times they’re very successful in business, some are teachers. So it’s a nice feeling when they come in to touch base to see if I’m still working, to see how I’m doing.”

One soul whose military career Goldman certainly influenced is that of his son, 53-year-old Glenn Goldman, who graduated from West Point in 1984 before serving 30 years in the Army, retiring as a Colonel and deploying to Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm.

“Today, he has a very, very good job at West Point as a GS civilian,” Goldman said. “You can imagine how proud I am of him.”

Sam Shinault, Panzer Exchange Main Store Manager, said Goldman’s example sets a bar for newer Exchange associates to work toward.

“There are people who say if you’re five minutes early, you’re late,” Shinault said. “Chief Goldman rides 45 minutes one way to work, and he’s here at least 30 minutes prior to the start of his shift every day. Being prompt, doing the many functions of a cashier and taking care of the customer is what he teaches by his actions.”