Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Life of Service

By Kathryn Baumgartner

For Joseph Baumgartner, a husband, father, and Vietnam veteran, doing good for others is almost second nature.

He served in the United States Army for 21 years, ten of which were spent overseas. He did four tours (about four years) in Vietnam and two tours in Germany. In Vietnam he was a supply sergeant for divisions of about 20,000 men and in Germany he worked in an infantry division and supplied repair parts for those who needed them.

While in Vietnam, Joe experienced the worst moment of his life. He was caught right in the middle of the Tet Offensive in 1968. The Tet Offensive was a surprise attack by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army during what was supposed to be a two-day cease fire agreed upon by both the North and South. The reason for the cease fire was the Tet Lunar New Year. The U.S. and South Vietnamese armies were caught completely off-guard by the attack.

Joe said of the experience, “I’ve never been more scared in my life before or since being caught in the middle of the Tet Offensive.”

The other 11 years Joe served in the Army were spent in the continental United States. For three of those years he was assigned to a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He had various tasks there, from teaching the ROTC students to serving as supply sergeant. During his last two years in Philadelphia, Joe began attending law school.

After working with the ROTC unit in Pennsylvania, Joe was assigned to a readiness group at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, N.Y. While working with that group, Joe attended St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. to complete his final two years of law school. Upon completion of law school, he took and passed the New York State Bar Exam.

Joe retired from the Army at the rank of master sergeant and began work as an employment lawyer. He specializes in representing unions, specifically police and corrections officer unions. He devotes much of his time to the cases he is working on, making sure he gets the best deal for those who have devoted their lives to serving their communities.

In addition to serving his country and his local officers, Joe also takes care of his family. He has four daughters and one son, who he loves and has always worked hard to provide for. He also has a wife of twenty-seven years.

The desire to serve and protect others runs in the Baumgartner family. Joe’s father also served in the Army as an electrical engineer, and his son completed four years of ROTC and has already served one year on active duty.  

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