DRAPER, Utah -- At the age of 79, David Jager is likely the oldest enlistment in Utah National Guard history.
Jager's military record states that his career began in the Utah Guard on May 6, 1963, in Salt Lake City, at the age of 28, but he didn't actually swear-in until Feb. 20, 2020, almost 57 years later.
That afternoon, Jager had visited the Utah National Guard headquarters in Draper, Utah, to fix a clerical error on his discharge paperwork. Where most soldiers join the military by raising their arm to the square and uttering the carefully worded Oath of Enlistment, somehow this formality was overlooked when Jager joined in 1963.
Even though he had not sworn the oath, Jager was hurriedly shipped off to boot camp at Fort Ord, California. The Vietnam War was in full swing. That same month would mark an all-time high for Viet Cong attacks. Jager served in the 140th Field Artillery Regiment for six years before being honorably discharged at the rank of staff sergeant.
Almost 57 years after joining the Utah National Guard, Jager straightened his back, raised his arm to the square and began to repeat the words of the oath: "I, David Jager, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States." As he spoke, tears gathered in his eyes and his voice began to shake.
The National Guard's Oath of Enlistment has remained unchanged since Aug. 10, 1956:
"I _______ , do solemnly swear, (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Utah against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to them; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of Utah and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations. So help me God."
Jager was also given the opportunity to sign his name on the line at the bottom of the Oath of Enlistment.
"It's an honor," Jager said afterward, sheepishly wiping his eyes. "I love the uniform. I love the flag."