In 1973, the end of the Vietnam draft triggered a massive decrease in National Guard enlistments across the United States, and a corresponding exodus from the First City Troop.
Although many who joined the Troop to avoid Vietnam left the Active Roll and never looked back, others—who joined for the same reason—remained in the Troop for decades afterward.
Karl Schoettle became the Troop’s elective committee chairman during this difficult period.
Convinced that Troop service had special things to teach young men about leadership, Schoettle said, “I knew quite a few Troopers who said they learned more about leadership from two weeks at NCO School than they got from a year at Wharton.”
He reached out to local prep schools with historic ties to the Troop, such as Episcopal Academy, The Haverford School, Chestnut Hill Academy, Germantown Academy, and Penn Charter, facing an up-hill battle against the anti-military bias sweeping America in the wake of Vietnam.
Schoettle hosted faculty members from some of these schools at Armory cocktail parties, but he would also resort to spectacular stunts, such as driving tanks and armored vehicles to a campus, or arriving on horseback. He chuckled, “Pious anti-military faculty members were outraged at us for showing up like this, but the kids loved it!”
In order to best communicate the Troop experience to young men approaching military age, Schoettle fielded questions about every aspect of serving in the unit. Among factors he most often cited were leadership development, business networking, patriotism, camaraderie, and love of history.
To his surprise, the most common factor that attracted young men to the Troop was a “love of history.”