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September 07, 2006

Remember Monty? -- Michael

He was an AOSHQ commenter who was legendary for his wit, and whose appearances were sorely missed when he joined the National Guard at a relatively late age and went off to boot camp. He still shows up on occasion, but his appearances are rare.

Apparently his mid-life interest in military service is a nascent trend.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. - In an Army platoon where the average age is 21, they call him the old man.

But when the platoon marched onto Range 18 one day last week in basic training, Pfc. Russell Dilling - at 42, the oldest-ever recruit in the modern Army - delivered. He was among a dozen of 60 recruits who dinged enough targets to qualify for the rifle certificate on his first try - a major psychological hurdle for would-be soldiers.

Private Dilling's success on Range 18 was a quiet affirmation for a graying computer repairman given a second chance when the Army raised its enlistment age limit from 35 to 42 in June. "I told my sons never to have regrets," he says a day after the shooting test as he catches breaths at a team-building challenge course deep in the Fort Jackson woods. "Well, I finally took my own advice."

Pretty cool. You can join at 42 and still have time for a full 20-year military career leading to retirement at 62. This all makes so much sense. People are living longer, and many middle-aged folks are much more physically fit and capable than their counterparts a generation ago.

Not everyone looks at this in a positive way.

But critics say adding older recruits is a sign of desperation for the Army - and a condemnation of the war effort from broader American society.

"It's true that people are living longer and people with more experience are needed, but let's face it: This initiative is about people from the normal demographic group not signing up in the midst of an unpopular war," says Loren Thompson, a military expert at the Lexington Institute in Washington.

See, that remark kinda pissed me off, even though it's probably true, and I was all ready to make snarky remarks about left-wing fucktards like Loren Thompson. But, I did pause to check out the Lexington Institute. It's actually a pro-military conservative think tank.

Still, God bless you, Pfc. Russell Stilling. Thank you for your service to our country. You too, Monty.

Christian Science Monitor - Newest Army recruits: the over-35 crowd


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