by Guy Thompson
Jon M. Witmer
U.S. Army – Specialist 4. 1965-1967 – Active Duty; 1967-1971 – Army Reserve
Basic training at Ft. Knox, Ky.; Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Dix, New Jersey; Pentagon – Defense Support Agency Headquarters; Ft. Sheridan, Ill.
National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal.
Memories of Service:
Following AIT, Witmer went to work at the Pentagon as part of the Defense Atomic Support Agency, the remains of the Manhattan Project. “At the time, there were developing uses of atomic energy for civilian and military use,” Witmer said.
Among the things the agency did was monitor the U.S. atomic testing program.
In January 1966, two planes collided over the Mediterranean Sea and dropped two unarmed nuclear weapons. “We went into lockdown,” Witmer recalled. “We didn’t see the light of day for four days. They brought our meals, cots to sleep on.”
Witmer also recalled a time when his parents, along with Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Varns, were at the Pentagon and they met the general he worked for. And, to his amazement, the general spent time visiting with them just outside of the offices.
Following his active service time, Witmer served at Ft. Sheridan in Illinois with the Reserve.
Witmer worked at Varns and Hoover in Middlebury as a teen and returned there following his military service until he was 26 and he went to work for Coachmen. He married his wife Carol in 1981, and they have two daughters and four granddaughters.
Witmer was treated for cancer through the Veterans Administration. “They do a fantastic job for us,’ he said.
Witmer is a member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210, where he serves as Post Chaplain and is part of the Middlebury Post’s funeral detail. He also takes care of the rifles at the Middlebury Legion and he and his wife drive the Middlebury Post’s float in area parades.