Five who served: Elshoffs recall service on Veterans Day

MUSCAINE, Iowa–For the Elshoff brothers, Veterans Day holds a lot of significance. As young adults, each served in a branch of the armed forces. Jim and John Elshoff served in the Marines, Thomas Elshoff joined the Coast Guard, and Paul and Doug Elshoff enlisted in the Army. Between them, these five brothers rendered remarkable services to their country and experienced many memorable situations.

Even 51 years later, John Elshoff, a Vietnam Era veteran, will never forget the difficulties of basic training. “Marine Corps basic training was the toughest mental and physical challenges I had ever faced,” he recalls. However, he also took pride in his accomplishments during that period of his service. He shared, “I excelled in physical fitness and was one of the fastest rope climbers in the platoon, climbing the 20 foot rope climb obstacle in mere seconds.”

John elshoff

In his years in the Marines, John Elshoff climbed the ranks from a private first class to a sergeant trained in radio repair. As part of his tour of duty, John Elshoff served in numerous locations, including Viegus, Puerto Rico; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Fort Sherman, Panama; the Netherland Antilles; and Kaneohe Bay Oahu, Hawaii.

Throughout his service, John Elshoff strove to do the best he could despite the unpopularity of the war at home. “I made up my mind, despite public opinion about the war, that each job that was assigned to me, I would carry it out to the best of my ability,” he remembers. His dedication earned him a good conduct medal.

Not long before, the eldest of the Elshoff brothers, Jim, had served as a Marine in the Vietnam War as well. He spent 13 months in Vietnam itself as part of the 3rd Force Recon. He attained the rank of sargeant in his four years of service.

While John and Jim Elshoff’s service took them down to the southern hemisphere, his younger brother, Vietnam Era veteran Thomas Elshoff, performed Coast Guard missions much farther north. After a flurry of training, including fire fighting training on Treasure Island in San Francisco, California, and rescue boat training in San Francisco Bay, Thomas Elshoff deployed to Georgia for long range navigation duty. He also served at the NATO station in Keflavik, Iceland. Thomas Elshoff remembers his service positively, saying, “I served my country and helped people at the same time.” Thomas Elshoff achieved the rank of petty officer.

Thomas Elshoff