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Date Posted: 02:34:15 06/14/05 Tue
Author: Debbie
Subject: Her Friday follow-up speaks to myriad humble mortal opinings...
In reply to: Chuck in ND 's message, "This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!" on 16:33:35 06/10/05 Fri

Linking for friends and readers ;-):

Zealous Marines get readers' attention...

Zealous Marines get readers' attention
Friday, June 10, 2005


More than a few proud former Marines saw the actions of a couple of zealous Marine recruiters as falling just short of trying to shanghai a Sedro-Woolley teen into the corps.

See Susan's original column on this story.

A year of relentless phone calls followed by drop-in visits, culminating in a trip to Seattle for the boy who tried to say no was the topic of Wednesday's column. The recruiters' actions tarnish this otherwise sterling branch of service, scores of them said.

"I have to wonder about the difference between refusing to go with someone and having them bully you into it until you do," Geoff Howland wrote.

"Wasn't this akin to kidnapping?" asked Don Carter and at least two dozen more who said that constantly berating a kid to "be a man" and accusing him of being "a burden" to his low-income single mom smacked of Gitmo-style "psy-ops."

It wasn't kidnapping. The kid is 18 and admittedly passive, eager to please and reluctant to argue. And he wasn't taken against his will. He just didn't know where he was going, that he'd end up in a Seattle motel room overnight. Or face a barrage of tests with little sleep or food in a center where the military seemed too daunting to resist.

With feelings about military recruiters in our high schools running hot, many, Gregory Gadow, Ted Fitch and others included, called for action against the recruiters (who did not return requests for interviews), for going beyond the call to fill their quotas.

But just as many readers went on the attack against the boy, his family and this column, charging that even questioning the recruiters' tactics is sickeningly unpatriotic.

They accused the teen, his mother, and the other relatives and friends who witnessed pieces of Axel's experience of lying. They called the boy a wimp and worse. And, without knowing anything about her, they called his mother a control freak for tracking her boy to Seattle and, with her daughter's help, springing him from the testing center.

So far, nearly 140 readers have weighed in on the odyssey of Axel, at least a dozen of them derisively evoking a mother's "apron strings."

He had to run away from his own mother to join the Marines and so did his son, wrote Michael G. Jackson, Col., USMC (retired). Who signed off with: "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it's in English, thank a U.S. Marine."

"How come thick-skulled liberals can't comprehend that rights and liberties they enjoy owe their origin and preservation to the military?" Michael Velikin asked.

"You extreme left-wingers who hate the military should remember you are able to spread your slime because our military served to protect that right," Don Clayton wrote.

Torkel Clark, USN (retired), blamed Axel's mom, Marcia, for NOT acting sooner, the moment her then-17-year-old started getting unwanted phone calls, saying the actions of the recruiters sound like "a Moonie cult from the '70s."

And, after 12 years as a U.S. Army recruiter, Lonnie Dotson offered these tips (assuming that the teen truly does not want to join):

"Call the recruiting station commander, the recruiters' commanding officer and/or the command sergeant major and complain.

Call or write your elected official -- the military will drop everything to respond.

Fail the written test on purpose.

Fail the physical, tell the recruiters you take mind-altering drugs, or that you're a convicted felon waiting for your parole to finish.

And lastly, call a reporter."

Navy veteran Lee R. Swanson countered, "My recruiters always told me the truth." And other vets insisted that such coercion simply doesn't happen. But an equal number said they'd heard of, or experienced, similar tactics and implausible blue-sky promises.

A veteran whose son is in the Air Force, Joe Teeples tells the bitter joke about the paratrooper told by his recruiter that he'd get a bonus plus two parachutes for every jump. On the way down, as the first and the second chutes don't open, the jumper says, "That recruiter probably lied about the trucks that were going to pick us up, too!"

"I had actually been accepted to a maritime academy and had won an ROTC scholarship," the Rev. James Olson said. "But this Marine recruiter wouldn't leave me alone. ... So I told the recruiter that I was gay and he shouted a bunch of expletives at me about wasting his time and leading him on. But he did stop calling! Funny thing is, it turns out I really was gay, but hadn't figured it out at the time."

Axel's former math teacher and coach at Cascade Middle School in Sedro-Woolley, Jim Morrell, is all for supporting the military. "Our guys in Iraq are doing a job that few want to do. They deserve our unwavering support. But lawlessness is not patriotism."

He was "appalled" at what happened and disputes the notion that his former student actually wanted to join the Marines if only his mother had let him.

"Axel's nature was one of a kind, gentle kid and about the last thing I could see him doing would be joining the Marines," Morrell said.

And, finally, for those who asked, Axel is not on his way to boot camp. He's home, attending Skagit Valley Community College, and still hoping to study chemistry -- in civilian clothes.

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