Former Capt. John Weimert is a veteran of three wars and is now active in the local VFW.
PINELLAS PARK – A veteran of three wars who spent 30 years in the Army, some of them as an intelligence officer who interrogated prisoners in Vietnam, said today’s military does not train its soldiers as well as it should.
Former Capt. John Weimert, 85, said reports of prisoner torture and manhandling in Iraq can be directly attributed to the lack of proper interrogation techniques that only can come from experience and training.
Some National Guardsmen and women and reservists, he said, are taken from their civilian jobs, receive minimum military training and shipped to Iraq and other trouble spots.
Weimert saw action in various capacities during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
He was in battlefields and was a military intelligence interrogator in Saigon where he also taught the art of getting information from the enemy.
“Not everyone can provide information,” Weimert said. “A private in a motor pool knows very little about military tactics as opposed to a career officer.”
The higher the rank of the prisoner, Weimert said, the more information can be obtained.
Born in Pennsylvania, he volunteered for the army at age 17 and saw action in the European Theater during World War II. Wounded, he was sent stateside to recuperate where a later assignment to California eventually put him in the Philippines and Okinawa.
He looked for a job after his honorable discharge.
“They were scarce because so many soldiers were returning home,” Weimert said. “So I reenlisted as a sergeant and spent time in Japan.”
He later saw action in Korea.
Proficient with all types of heavy weapons, he was rotated back to stateside and earned a geography degree from the University of Pennsylvania. The army later trained him to speak German, a language he already knew.
By late 1964 the Vietnam War was heating up. He was assigned to Saigon and assigned to military intelligence. He later joined an infantry unit and won a field commission to captain.
“I left the service in 1968 after 22 years,” Weimert said.
That wasn’t to last. He was recalled to active duty and eventually served a full 30 years.
Now commander of Pinellas Park’s VFW Post 4364, he dedicates his free time to veteran affairs.
“Anyone who holds a campaign ribbon can join the VFW,” Weimert said.
He also urged veterans to prepare for their demise by arranging for their funerals.
“Only Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., is operated by the Army,” Weimert said. “All other military cemeteries are run by the Veterans Administration.”
“I enjoyed my years in the service of my country,” Weimert said. “I would do it all over again.”