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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of
Staff, G-1 [White]
February 19, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
I have never quite understood why there is so much of delay in the release of men over 38 from the Army when they have no special qualification that is being utilized. I saw a number of typical cases in Africa, and I had in mind then the impracticability, so far as the individual is concerned, to give any assurance of a specific job when he was thousands of miles from the probable place of employment, with a very uncertain mail service.1
Since then I have encountered other cases. Two days ago I picked up a soldier on the way to town. He was from the Quartermaster Detachment at Fort Myer, 44 years old as I recall, and had been employed by the same bank for 25 years. He is driving a truck, so certainly his specialty is not being utilized, and I assume there are plenty of truck drivers available.
This man told me he had been to his First Sergeant, who told him he should write somebody on the outside about the matter. I told this soldier to go to his Company Commander, and say I sent him, and ask the Company Commander to tell him how to apply.
I have gotten the same impression from every one of the older men I have talked to—that they are more or less put off, and have a very hazy understanding of what the requirements are. Please keep in mind that none of these men appealed to me, I merely noticed they were old, inquired their age, asked them what they were doing and what their occupation in civil life had been—and in no case finding the man working on his civilian specialty—inquired whether or not he had applied for relief from active service.
How clear are our regulations, so far as the recently commissioned company commanders are concerned, are they very complicated? What is the trouble with this business?
I know that there were something like 300,000 men over 38 in the service and, naturally, they could not all be discharged at once. But this business of releasing them came up last fall, and we are now approaching the spring.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. In December 1942 the army began permitting the release from service of men in the enlisted ranks who were over age thirty-eight; the provisions for discharge were liberalized in early February 1943. Any enlisted man over age thirty-eight could submit a written request for discharge to his immediate commanding officer; he also had to present a letter or written statement from a prospective employer or responsible person that he would subsequently be employed in an essential industry or in agriculture. If the applicant was on duty outside the United States, he could be discharged if a suitable replacement was available. Nearly forty-eight thousand men had been discharged by the end of February 1943. (Selective Service System, Age in the Selective Service Process, Special Monograph No. 9 [Washington: GPO, 1946], pp. 59-60.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 555-556.