They Could Live Anywhere, But Like Columbia Best

Whatever else the City of Columbia may have, one of its assets is its people.

This is the opinion of an ever growing group of Colombians, the world-traveled, honorably retired U. S. Army officers and enlisted men who choose Columbia as their permanent home.

Any servicemen who retires with more than 20 years of honorable service can pick the place he wants to live – anywhere in the free world- and the government will foot the bill – lock, stock and barrel- to move him and his family to his home of choice.

At Fort Jackson’s transfer station, an average of three to five officers and seven to ten enlisted men retired each month. Some exercise their prerogative and travel to the far-flung corners of the nation and the world. But many remain in Columbia for the rest of their lives.

The question “why” was put to some of these men. Here are their answers:

M-Sgt James Derrick, born and raised in Chapin, entered the Army in 1933. A long-time ordnance expert, he served in many stateside installation and in combat in Italy and France.

He and his wife, Naomi, brought up three children; a son now in the Navy, a daughter now married, and another daughter still living in the family home at 1502 Winchester Dr. Naomi Derrick, originally from Mary, Ind., now works as a nurse in Columbia Hospital.

“I retired July 31st, just before my 48th birthday,” said Sgt. Derrick. “I chose to live in Columbia for one reason – because I like it. It’s my home.”

All other considerations are secondary to Sgt. Derrick. To him, the Commissary, Post Exchange and Medical Care privileges he enjoys at nearby Fort Jackson are not as important as Columbia’s potential for civilian employment.

“I’m still a young man and I’m eager to go back to work,” he says. “Civil Service employment would be best for me.”

Sfc John A. Davis and his wife, Lily Mae Davis, were both born and raised in Blaney, but have lived on Percival Road near Columbia for the past 12 years. During that time, while Sgt. Davis served at Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and overseas, the family kept the Columbia home in July, Davis returned at the age of 40, and this week he started a new career Assisted by the “G I Bill” he is studying mechanics at Columbia Trade School.

The Davis’ have four children ranging in age from three months to 13 years.

According to Mrs. Davis, “We knew the Army would move us anywhere we wanted to go when John retired, but we just wanted to stay at home – and Columbia is “home’ to us.”

Now selling automobiles for one of Columbia’s leading auto agencies is Chief Warrant Officer Delbert Gogorth who retired July 31 after 22 1/2 year of service. He came from Charlotte, N. C., and his wife, Marguerite, is a native of Columbia, Ga.,

The Gororths first came to Columbia in 1954 and the family stayed here while Mr. Goforth completed a tour of duty in Korea.

“We own our own home on Pine Valley Road,” he says, “and our son and daughter are happy in the public schools system.

“We just felt it was a pretty good place to settle down.”

There are hundreds of retired Army men like Derrick and Davis living in Columbia and surrounding areas. An important aspect in the choice of homesites is, nearness to Fort Jackson where they still receive all the benefits they had while in service.

These same benefits would be available at any army, Navy or Air Force installation, but as one old soldier put it, “I like the way they do things at Fort Jackson and I don’t think the government will ever close it down.”

But it’s not all give and not take in the Army’s attitude toward its retired members. Retirement doesn’t completely sever the ties of authority. When a man retires from the Army and takes up residence locally, he is merely transferred to the jurisdiction of the U. S. Army XII Corps (Reserved). From its headwauters in Atlanta, XII Corps supervises all reservist activities in Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Retired member go on the Corps’ inactive list.

At Fort Jackson the Adjutant General maintains a Retired Activities Branch.

The number of men retiring will rise rapidly during the next few years when the first mass of World War II inductees from the 1940 and 1941 drafts will reach the 20-year service mark. Aldrey rounding out their service careers in anticipation of retirement are many men now at Fort Jackson whose retirement plans center on life in Columbia.

Not yet retired, but hartset on Columbia as his new hometown, is Captain Howard Aschwald, newly returned to the United States from duty in Italy (unable to read) of New York City, Captain Aschwald chose Columbia (unable to read) its moderate cost of living and excellent schooling (unable to read).

With the University of South Carolina practically on our doorstep I’m going back to school.

Captain Aschwald will retire in October and live in his own home on Quitman Drive.

Sergenat Major Albert H. Tolbert in the Army since 1931, is a native of Atlanta, Ga. His wife is from Raleigh, N. C.

“That makes Columbia just half way between our former homes” he says “but that not the reason we are going to retire here.”

“I like Columbia and Columbians and I like Fort Jackson, sums up Sergeant Tolbert.

A year ago he bought his home on Morninglo Lane in Woodside, “and I’ve sunk everything I own into it” He confides.

Tolbert has already lived in Columbia for seven years. His daughter is married, living here and working in Columbia Baptist Hospital.

Sergeant Tolbert plans to retire on active duty until 1963, but doesn’t expect to be transferred away from Fort Jackson. In a military career spanning more than 30 years, he has risen to the top super-grade of enlisted rank.

Columbia is his choice.

September 21, 1959  Columbia Record (published as The Columbia Record)  
Columbia, South Carolina
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