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Shelton Natives Recall How Joining The Marines Changed Their Lives

George French, left, and George Gutman, both former Marines attended the Veterans Day service in Shelton on Wednesday.
George French, left, and George Gutman, both former Marines attended the Veterans Day service in Shelton on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

SHELTON, Conn. -- As 18-year-olds hanging around in Shelton, George French and George Gutman didn't know what they would do with their lives. But that all changed when they decided to enlist in the Marines.

"We weren't going anywhere, we had to do something," Gutman said just before the Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial park in Shelton on Wednesday. "We weren't going to go to school so we dared each other, and we went and we enlisted."

Gutman said they signed up in November 1976.

"We voted for the president on Tuesday and went to boot camp on Wednesday," Gutman said with a laugh. "They said if Jimmy Carter got in we would be going to war and we never did."

Carter won that election and served for four years as did both Gutman and French, who left active duty in 1980.

The two men said it was one of the best decisions they ever made.

"It changed my life completely," Gutman said. "It set values and it showed me what I had to do and to get done."

"It took me from hanging around the block, to a family to growing up and starting out in life," said French, who was already a Marine and 19 years old when he married his wife, Anita.

Veterans Day is a special day for both men.

"I do it in remembrance of the guys who didn't make it," French said as Gutman nodded in agreement. "I try to live up to their memory. I try to think of them, the guys who died for the country and made this day possible and our freedoms."

Gutman still lives in Shelton while French now lives in Derby. The two men continue their attachment to the Marines by serving as officers with the Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

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