Military Service

Schuylkill County has always answered the call to service.

From Fort Lebanon during the French and Indian War to Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf and to the war in Iraq, the patriotic spirit of the county is alive and well.

Graduates of our high schools actively seek admission to the various service academies, and enlistments in all branches of the service are always at high levels.

Schuylkill Countians are proud of the strong military tradition that is probably best exemplified by Gen. George A. Joulwan. A 1957 graduate of Pottsville High School, Joulwan graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1961. He was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, as post first held by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Joulwan retired from his distinguished military career in July 1997.

Schuylkill County women have joined the ranks of our men and women who have worn a star signifying their elevation to either general or admiral. The Navy promoted a Schuylkill County woman to the rank of rear admiral. In 1983 Mary J. Nielbowicz, a Shenandoah native, became director of the Navy Nurse Corps. In 2001, this same position was filled by Nancy Lescavage, a Port Carbon native.

On the lighter side of the county's long and distinguished military tradition, we have the Third Brigade Band, the third-oldest band in the United States. It can trace its origins to 1849 to a variety of musical organizations both civilian and military. On August 2, 1881, it was first called the Third Brigade Band of the Pennsylvania National Guard. In 1903, the state stopped having brigade bands and the Third Brigade Band was mustered out of service. It has been a community band ever since.

In 1918, two teenagers from Shenandoah, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, arrived with a letter from their father. He requested an audition for them with the Third Brigade Band. Largely because of their youth, they were turned down. In 1955, 37 years later, these two world-renowned musicians became honorary members of the Third Brigade Band. The band traditionally plays every New Year's Day at noon in Pottsville. Funded largely through donations, the band now includes many women, and operates without regard to race or religion.