"Always carry a can opener," advises former United States spy and Sedgebrook resident Phil Wertz, "you never know when it will come in handy."
Phil's job in the Counter Intelligence Core, CIC, (the Army's version of the FBI) was to keep the riffraff out of the Army by qualifying job applicants to work for the Department of the Army in Europe. He was charged with keeping spies, Nazis, criminals and malcontents off the payroll.
"Fortunately, the Germans were the best record keepers in the world," Wertz said. It made his job of meticulously combing through records easier.
Phil married his sweetheart in August of 1950 and he was drafted in April of 1951. After 16 weeks of training, a Berlitz course in German and relocation to Bad Wildungen, Germany, he settled into his job. His credentials included being able to type 55 to 60 words per minute.
He graduated with the second highest grades in the CIC and was an expert shooter, surpassing even marksman and sharp shooter ranking. On May Day, 1952, his wife joined him and took a job as a typist.
Researching what had gone on in World War II, locating Russian spies and training new recruits were part of Phil's job, but scouring the German records that arrived every Monday was the most disturbing responsibility he had. However, his work helped the United States prepare for a potential Russian attack during the Cold War.
Phil is a strong advocate for military families and believes that the return of a veteran after his service has concluded is a difficult transition for the entire family unit.
He speaks openly and passionately about this cause and hopes that greater awareness of the problem will help inspire attention that results in better counseling for all.
Phil grew up on the West Side of Chicago in a small home that has since been torn down. He went to Crane Tech High School and received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He intended to work in finance, but that changed when he was drafted. He spent his career as an attorney and has four children and six grandchildren.
Phil and his wife Mary were the seventh couple to move into Sedgebrook 10 years ago. Since that time he has been very involved. Phil started the Sedgebrook library, has served on the Resident Advisory Council and completed reading more than 80 books about his hero, Harry Truman. For more information on his experiences, see his book "Harry, Oscar and Me," which is scheduled for publication later this year.
"This is another great example of the fascinating people who have made Sedgebrook their home," said Deann Daniel, executive director of Sedgebrook. "Everyone has a story and amazing life experiences."
For information on Sedgebrook, visit www.WelcomeToSedgebrook.com or call (847) 901-3319.
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