Woitte family - three surviving generations having served in the United States military
When he reached 18 years of age, Kandus Woitte volunteered for the U.S. Navy. The years of 1944 through 1946 saw his ship, the U.S.S. Lauderdale APA179, survive intense battle, including the 97-day, 219,000-casualty Battle of Okinawa.
In July, 1976, Joe Woitte volunteered for the U.S. Air Force. From then to when he got out in 1993, he was involved in the bombing raids of Libya, the liberation of Grenada and Panama, the first Gulf War and a diplomatic mission to repatriate remains of MIAs from Vietnam.
In January 2000, Kelly Woitte entered the Army National Guard and later joined the active army. She saw duty for 15 months in Operation Iraqi Freedom where over 4,000 U.S. troops have been lost to date.
Three generations of the Woitte family have volunteered for active duty in the United States military. Kandus and one of his two brothers joined. Three of his four sons (one being Joe) and two of his daughters joined. A granddaughter (Kelly) and two grandsons are now in the military. Great-granddaughter, Kelly's six-month-old girl, will be given the same choice that Kelly had.
"When I wanted to join the military," said Kelly, "Dad sat me down and asked, 'If it comes down to that point, could you look that other person in the eye and still pull the trigger?' He made me think about it for five minutes before I answered. I said that I would be able to do it. Dad then signed the release forms, since I was only 17 at the time, so that I could join the Army National Guard."
Kandus, Joe and Kelly have different stories of getting out of the service. Seaman 1st Class Kandus Woitte said that he was "just so glad to get out. They wouldn't have kept us anyway, since they were cutting down on personnel after the war. I do still keep in touch with some of the guys from the 300 shipmates on my Lauderdale. There was a camaraderie about the ship. Out on the ocean, you aren't going home at night. I enjoyed the service, though not the battle part of it."
Technical Sergeant Joe Woitte said, "I opted for early-out retirement when Clinton was downsizing the military. Before, my wife thought that it got old with me being gone all the time. That took some getting used to, it really did. The last two years in, I was based at home all the time, and that really drove her nuts."
Staff Sergeant E5 Kelly (Woitte) Maugiri got out of active duty in November 2004. She said, "I went right into the Air Force Guard as a medical technician, where I am now under voluntary deployment. I thought that me getting out of active duty was the best way to be with my husband, who is now out of the army, and to start a family." The three relatives do agree on some pros and cons of military service. Kandus said, "We do tell each other stories ... some. You see a lot of the world and you learn camaraderie." Joe said, "I joined the Air Force because I wanted to do more than carry a pack and a gun. Still, it's a demanding life. You learn self confidence." Kelly said, "I liked all the grunt stuff, getting down and dirty and proving I could do something in serving my country. Though I wanted to travel, you are often gone for months at a time. The camaraderie is amazing; you could die for the stranger right next to you just because he is wearing the right uniform."