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Swisher Retires from the Iowa National Guard After 44 Years of Service

An Iowa National Guard member who joined after dropping out of high school has retired as the longest-serving soldier in the organization. Stephen Swisher retired in July as a Chief Warrant Officer Five — and was honored Wednesday in a ceremony in a repair bay where he worked for more than four decades. He joined the guard at the suggestion of a coworker.

He says the repairman who worked at the company told him he needed to go into the military. Swisher says his mom had to have a judge sign for him to join the guard because of his age. The tests showed he should be a mechanic — even though he didn’t have much experience at it.

Swisher says. Swisher spent the next 44 years, seven months, and 18 days repairing all types of equipment to keep his fellow guard members going. He never expected to serve that long.

Swisher says the professionalism of the National Guard has increased in the time since he joined as a young man.

World War Two era jeeps and trucks were the mode of transportation when he joined the guard. Through the years he saw the equipment change dramatically as well — and says the key was to keep up on the new technology.

Swisher’s commanders credit him with keeping up on all the changes while being a teacher and mentor who trained other warrant officers who joined the guard. Swisher’s wife and family were also recognized for the support they gave him. Swisher says he didn’t do much immediately after retiring in July — but has since started working for a trucking company.

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