by Rachel Hunter
John Holt of Gouverneur will be honored with the Silas Wainwright VFW Post 6338 Member of the Year Award at Post 6338’s Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, March 9.
Mr. Holt was nominated by Darryl Sapoff for his dedication to Post 6338. Mr. Holt serves as Post Adjutant, Service Officer, and Assistant Quartermaster.
John Holt, born in Boston, Mass., fell in love with the North Country during his military career, which brought him to Fort Dum twice. He retired after 20 years on active duty and three and half years in the reserves. Mr. Holt was first stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, and worked as a track vehicle mechanic, fixing tanks, armored personnel carriers, etc. He got out for a short time, and when he went back into military service, he became a generator mechanic at Fort Drum, NY.
“That’s what I did for the rest of my military career, just based off of mechanical ability. I have ended up working on everything from single cylinder Diesel engine all the way up to a 1790 cu. inch V12 Diesel. “That weighs twice what my van does,” he said. “It powers a 56-ton tank. Big engine. I worked on everything from generators to tanks to bulldozers.”
Mr. Holt was sent from Fort Drum to Germany, and was supposed to be there for two years, but ended up only serving there for one year because he got “caught up in of the lovely congressionally mandated base realignment closure moves.” He then was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“I was stuck on Fort Bliss for two and a half years, went to Korea for a year, finally got myself back here to Fort Drum,” Mr. Holt said. “I was here for four months and deployed to Kuwait for 15. Coming back from Kuwait, I was here for about six months and got sent to recruiter school. Came back from recruiter school and they sent me down to Central Massachusetts to be a recruiter, and I finished up my military career in recruiting. I retired from that.”
Mr. Holt said at first his recruiting numbers were low, but is proud that two men he recruited went on to serve with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. “So I may not have put in a lot of quantity, but I put in quality,” he said.
After retiring, Mr. Holt entered into civilian life as an appliance repair technician. “I pretty much learned how to fix just about anything,” he said. “As an appliance repair technician, I used to fix washer, dryers, microwaves, ranges.”
John and Julie Holt fell in love with the North Country and decided to retire here. Mr. Holt became disabled and now is a full-time college student, in his fourth semester at SUNY Canton where he studies emergency management with a minor in accounting. “Every semester I have carried either an 18 or 19 credit hour load, and I have a cumulative GPA right now of 3.97,” he said. He also is an accounting tutor at SUNY Canton. He aspires to work for St. Lawrence County in the Office of Emergency Services. Mr. Holt said he was looking for a career he could pursue even if he ends up in a wheelchair.
“It’s a daily fight with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and at least Emergency Management or Accounting is something I can do seated,” Mr. Holt said. “I don’t have to be up running around. I can’t fix things anymore. I can still fiddle around and fix them eventually but my body just won’t handle fixing diesels anymore. I am not even about to pickup a 75-pound starter again. But I can at least use the knowledge to help others. That’s what I like doing.”
Mr. Holt is also active in the community, also having membership in the Gouverneur Masonic Lodge No. 217, where he has served as worshipful master. He also is a director of the Greater Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce, have been voted in after becoming involved as VFW Post 6338’s representative to the local chamber.
“My plate is pretty full,” Mr. Holt said. “It keeps me busy. If you don’t keep your mind and your body busy, it goes to mush.”
Mr. Holt’s hobbies include Lego model building. His most recent project is a New England Patriots football helmet that his wife is able to wear, and did most recently during the annual championship game of the National Football League on Sunday, February 3.
All are invited to help honor this year’s VFW Member of the Year John Holt at the Silas Wainwright VFW Post 6338’s Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, March 9, at the VFW Hall, 100 W. Main St., Gouverneur. Cocktail hour will be at 5 p.m., and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. For more information and to make reservations, call the VFW at (315) 287-4682.