Phil Longo enlisted in the Army because his high school friend told him one day that he was enlisting in the Army. Longo did not want his friend to go alone. They both went to Miami, Florida, to take their physicals where Longo passed and his friend did not.
Longo went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he completed his basic training. His test scores were high enough for Officer Candidate School, but he didn’t have the minimum of two years of college. Longo instead joined the Army Security Agency.
After basic training, Longo traveled to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, for training. While at Fort Devens, he was on casual status, where he would take other GI’s Kitchen Police duties. One day, he noticed the kitchen pantry was in complete disarray. Longo took pegboards, hooks and paint, redoing and repairing the pantry back to normality. The commanding officer was so impressed, he ordered Longo to complete special projects for the remainder of his casual status.
Longo served with the 8th Radio Research Field Station in Phu Bai, which was 40 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. That area received numerous rocket attacks daily. It was during one of these barrages that Longo fled from the shower and cut his foot on something he stepped on. While getting the wound treated, Longo overheard the doctors discussing the city of Hue and going into the hospitals, orphanages and leper colonies to help those in need. Longo asked if he could join the doctors in helping this community. They informed him to be back at this location at 7 a.m. Longo met with these doctors for several months. During this time, Longo wrote a letter to his high school, getting a shipment of necessities and toys for the children.
Longo received an Outstanding Basic Trainee Award and two commendations, leaving as an E-5. He said he loved the Army and cherished the moments during his four years.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Alex Boucher
Editor: Cassidy Reid and Katie Wang
Fact checker: Ormina Naveed and R.D. Hamilton
Graphic artist: Faith Kauhn