It is our great privilege on Veteran’s Day to honor ReServists who have served their country. We are proud that these individuals have chosen to lend their skills, smarts and know-how to ReServe, and honored to place them in the service of so many worthy organizations. We thank our ReServist Veterans for their service, and for their commitment to giving back.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Brings Multiple Talents to ReServe
Edward Lipinski grew up in Jersey City and attended college in Pennsylvania, where he studied psychology and was active in film and theater. After graduating in 1965 he planned to move to New York City to start a career in the arts. Instead he was drafted, at a time when the Vietnam War was expanding. He entered the U.S. Air Force and attended Officers Training School.
Initially stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas, Edward was sent to California for missiles operations and maintenance training. He was then deployed to Kansas, where he served as a missile launch officer with the U.S. Strategic Air Command.
Maybe the hardest part about spending 18 months in a missile silo was being in constant readiness for something that everyone hoped would never happen. There was one memorable event; participating in a test launch of a Titan 2 missile, at the time the largest intercontinental ballistic missile in the U.S. arsenal. Edward activated the launching device that sent the missile – equipped with a dummy warhead filled with propellants – across the continent and into the Pacific Ocean.
“The SAC wanted to photograph the missile in flight, and there was a technical problem with the aircraft that delayed the launch for one day,” he said. “Because of the delay our crew launched it, making us one of the few crews ever to participate in a launch.”
Edward left the service in 1970 and returned to New York to study the visual arts under the G.I Bill. He worked as a professional writer, designer and illustrator, and the columns he wrote and illustrated for the New York Times - Home Clinic and Home Improvement – were widely syndicated and turned into a book. He also taught art and art history at the Center for Media Arts and Mercy College in Manhattan.
The multi-talented Mr. Lipinski is also an accomplished ballroom dancer and part-time professional actor. The Actor’s Alliance, which helps members find work, got him several roles including a non-speaking part in a travelogue about Egypt.
“I was photographed dancing on a ship that sailed down the Nile,” he said.
Edward heard about ReServe through the Actor’s Alliance. His first placement as a ReServist was with the City of New York, where he wrote and edited manuals related to health and public safety. He was happy to be writing professionally again and loved working out of an office in the Woolworth Building with fantastic views of downtown Manhattan. He would have stayed on but funding for the project ended.
Edward continues to seek out opportunities with ReServe. “ReServe offers very creative jobs,” he said. “A lot of nonprofits can’t afford top talent, but through ReServe they can get that for an affordable price. It’s very rewarding for both sides.”
For Edward, the opportunity to give back is an extension of his commitment to service, which began in the U.S. Air Force. “I served to the best of my ability, and it will always give me a great feeling of accomplishment,” he said.
ReServe Honored to Help Preserve an Extraordinary Military Legacy
As founder and president of the 369th Historical Society, Major General Nathaniel James is custodian of the archives of the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, the legendary “Harlem Hellfighters” who served in both World Wars. His commitment to the mission is more than academic; in 1953, as a senior in high school, he enlisted and served as an infantryman in the all-Africa-American regiment, at a time when segregation was just starting to be phased out of the military.
The decision marked the beginning of a distinguished 33-year military career that culminated with General James’ appointment to serve as Commanding General of the New York Army National Guard. He was promoted to Major General in December, 1992.
The 369th Historical Society is an all-volunteer nonprofit agency that was established in 1960 to collect, preserve and maintain artifacts, books, papers, photographs, film and articles on the history of the 369th Regiment, and of African American soldiers who served in the U.S. Military It has always been housed at the historic 369th Infantry Regiment Armory at 2366 Fifth Avenue in Harlem, which was built for the regiment in 1933. But with the Armory currently undergoing a major renovation – and the Society unable to return when the renovation is complete – Gen. James was forced to archive, pack and store the entire collection.
It was a massive undertaking. For help, Gen. James turned to the Summer Seniors Employment Program (SSEP), a partnership between ReServe and the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). ReServe recruits West Harlem residents age 55+ to lend their skills to high-impact service projects at nonprofits throughout New York City. Participants work part-time throughout the summer, with stipends funded by WHDC, which promotes economic growth and quality of life in West Harlem.
“The Summer Seniors Employment Program is extremely helpful to organizations like mine,” Gen. James said. “It is a great opportunity to get valuable help.”
The U.S. Army’s 369th Regiment was formed from the National Guard’s 15th Regiment in New York in 1913, as the first and only National Guard unit in New York State composed solely of African-Americans, and the first African-American regiment to serve during World War 1. The regiment, nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters by the German Army, was known for its tenacity and toughness. During a triumphant return to the U.S. the unit paraded through the streets of New York on February 17, 1919, a day that was an unofficial holiday in Harlem.
The Hellfighters later became a coastal artillery unit, and then a logistics supply brigade. The 369th paved the way for future African American soldiers to serve the nation, and the unit’s bravery and dedication were cited frequently during the subsequent fight for civil rights.
Barney Pinkney was the first of two SSEP participants to help with archiving and packing the collection. A native New Yorker and military veteran, he entered the service in 1973 and served for 14 years in the infantry and as a tanker. He later joined the Army ReServe at Fort Totton in Queens.
Mr. Pinkney heard about ReServe at a meeting of the American Associations of Retired Persons (AARP), and began helping Mr. James with organizing and packing the 369th Historical Society archives. He was honored to offer his services to Mr. James and looks forward to the day when the collection finds a new home.
Barney regards his military service as a source of pride and accomplishment. He is grateful for the opportunity to give back through ReServe, and to have a hand in preserving an important historical record that might otherwise be lost to future generations.
“Serving my country was one of my most proud accomplishments,” he said. “Now, it feels very good to be giving back through ReServe.”
The Society recently opened a temporary office at the Harlem Prep Charter School on East 123rd Street. The collection will remain in storage until it finds a permanent home. When it does, Gen. James will turn to ReServe for help.
“I would love to have Barney and the other SSEP participants back,” he said.
Life Lessons Learned in the Military Brought to ReServe
New York City native William Werwaiss entered the U.S. Navy in 1961. He earned his officer’s commission and served at sea on a destroyer until 1966. Following his service he worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nation, serving under Admiral John McCain, the future U.S. Senator.
The Navy in those days was a great place for young people to learn about life. William served with people for every kind of background and all walks of life, and learned about accountability and taking responsibility for oneself.
“It was a very positive experience for me,” he said. “I still get together with my shipmates.”
William moved to Connecticut, where he worked for 30 years in the telephone industry, as a technician and later as a division president with ATT. He retired at 55 and did consulting work for telecommunications clients. He volunteered for various agencies but wanted his service to have more of an impact.
William first heard about ReServe through a friend at the New York Times Foundation. He attended an orientation session and was deeply impressed by the opportunities that were available to a very talented cohort of older professionals.
His first placement as a ReServist was with an organization that provides sanctuary and support for victims of domestic violence. “It was a great organization, extremely well managed with a great mission,” William said.
Through the placement William was introduced to members of the New York City Department of Health (DOH), who were impressed enough by what they saw that they decided to start their own ReServe program. He was invited to help run it – to match organizations with the appropriate ReServist – and gladly accepted the offer, eager to play a role in expanding ReServe’s impact.
William spent two years with the DOH. At its peak the program employed 35 ReServists including doctors, engineers and law enforcement personnel.
William’s next placement was with a health care chaplaincy, where he served for over three years as assistant to the vice president for Human Resources. His tasks included managing key accounts, conducting background investigations and acting as registrar for symposiums.
All told, William spent over six years as a ReServist. He is thrilled to have found an agency that lets him extend his commitment to service, which began when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The genius of the organization, he said, is that it allows retired seniors to work, with flexible schedules and real responsibilities, and to have an impact on individuals and communities.
“I have a service ethic,” he said. “ReServe allows me to continue that commitment as a member of highly skilled teams that help so many nonprofit organizations.”