Gerard enlisted in the United States Air Force on May 19, 1970. He was sworn in at the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station (AFEES) in Newark, NJ, was given the rank of Airman Basic (AB) and assigned to the Lackland Military Training Center at Lackland AFB, Texas for Basic Training.
AB Sczepura completed training with Flight 0499, 3708 Basic Military Training Squadron and was promoted to the Grade of Airman (AMN) on June 23, 1970. He was then given orders to report to the 3628 Student Squadron, ATC, Lackland AFB for Security Police (3ABR 81130) training to begin on July 1, 1970 for five weeks. AMN Sczepura completed Security Police School and was awarded an Honor Graduate certificate for superior academic achievement.
AMN Sczepura’s first base assignment was at Eglin AFB Auxiliary Field #9, Hurlburt Field, Florida with the 834th Security Police Squadron, Tactical Airlift Command (TAC). After completing the Security Policeman On-the-Job Training (OJT) course he was awarded AFSC 81150. He was promoted to Airman First Class (A1C) on January 1, 1971.
A1C Sczepura returned to Lackland AFB to attend the Security Police Combat Preparedness Course 3AZR81150 (AZR) before leaving for a new assignment with the 6251 Security Police Squadron, Bien Hoa AB, Republic of Vietnam. The AZR course included extensive day and night fire with the M-16 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, and M-60 machine gun; hand grenade throwing, small unit tactics; and a nighttime live-fire obstacle course all conducted at nearby Camp Bullis.
Immediately after arriving in-country, A1C Sczepura was reassigned from the 6251 SPS to the 35th Security Police Squadron, Phan Rang AB. Phan Rang AB is located 165 miles northeast of Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City) and 35 miles south of Cam Ranh Bay.
A1C Sczepura’s first Security Police post assignment on day shift was flight line sentry. On that day, the final mission of an RAAF Canberra pilot and crew was being celebrated. In addition to the Canberra unit, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing also deployed the F-100 Super Saber. A1C Sczepura’s other duties included: perimeter tower guard; bunker guard at the Wells in Phan Rang City; and SAT (Security Alert Team) leader / member. During 1971, combat operations started to wind down, and as a result, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was deactivated and replaced by the 315th Tactical Airlift Wing.
As a result of President Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, A1C Sczepura was selected for early return to the World (the military’s term for the USA) and received orders to report to the 42nd Security Police Squadron, Strategic Air Command (SAC), Loring AFB, Maine. A1C Sczepura spent his last two weeks of duty on night shift with Panther Flight and on February 26, 1972 he left Vietnam.
A1C Sczepura was promoted to Sergeant (SGT) on May 1, 1972 while at Loring AFB. After receiving recognition for his outstanding conduct during a post inspection by the Duty Officer and other Security Police officials, SGT Sczepura was offered OJT for a new duty assignment as Alarm Monitor / Alternate CSC (Central Security Control) Desk Sergeant in the Nuclear Weapons Storage Area.
SGT Sczepura was selected to conduct a prisoner escort from the Stockade at Fort Dix, NJ back to Loring AFB in July, 1972.
SGT Sczepura was awarded Superior Performance Proficiency Rating (Pro Pay) of $30.00 per month for 6 months after receiving the results from the Promotion Fitness Examination and Specialty Knowledge Tests: AFPT 81150 and AFPT 30035. After being promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-5), SSGT Sczepura was assigned new duties as Security Police Supervisor both in the Nuclear Weapons Storage Area and the Alert Aircraft parking areas.
SSGT Sczepura received a Diploma from The Forty-Second Bombardment Wing, Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School.
On May 17, 1974, SSGT Sczepura was separated from Active Duty and transferred to the US Air Force Inactive Reserves for the remaining 2 years of his 6 year enlistment. He was awarded the following medals, commendations, and campaign ribbons:
- Air Force Good Conduct Medal (AFGCM)
- National Defense Service Medal (NDSM)
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (RVCM)
- Vietnam Service Medal (VSM)
- Air Force Marksmanship Medal (AFM 900-3)
Gerard received an Honorable Discharge on May 18, 1976.