The Marine Corps new recruits

LA Times:

ALI and Yasmin Motamedi did not want their eldest son to join the Marine Corps.

They paid close attention to the news, and they didn't like what they saw: Marines and soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan; young men and women with their limbs blown off; veterans coming home mentally scarred and emotionally broken.

Daniel Motamedi, 17 years old and brimming with wisecracks and bravado, considered the Marine Corps the opportunity — and the adventure — of a lifetime. While his friends watched "American Idol," he scoured the History Channel for old war footage. He memorized Marine Corps history and traditions. He joined ROTC. He wore a Marine Corps lanyard and plastered the Corps logo on his parents' gold Mercedes.

On Mother's Day, at the family home in Stevenson Ranch, Daniel confirmed what his parents had feared for months: He was joining the Marines. Boot camp would begin 10 days after his high school graduation.

"We hoped he'd at least go to college first … " Yasmin said later. "I spent all of Mother's Day crying."

Ali thought his son was too young: "When you're 17, you really don't think straight. It's all hype and energy and instinct. It all feels wrong. I should be going to war, not this kid."

The couple support President Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Ali, a shoe company executive who left his native Iran at 17, believes the U.S. should have attacked Iran as well. Yasmin, a Los Angeles Police Department detective who emigrated from El Salvador at 12, believes the U.S. military "could be a little more forceful" in Iraq. Both parents agonized over what might happen to their son if he enlisted.

In the end, after several frank sessions with Daniel's Marine recruiter, after emotional talks with their son, after studying casualty statistics on the Internet, and after overcoming a father's misgivings and a mother's dread, they signed papers allowing Daniel Brien Motamedi, a minor, to become a Marine recruit.

"I just had to give it to God," his mother said. "I'm at peace with it now."

In a time of war, when Americans have soured on the grinding conflict in Iraq, and the rosters of the dead lengthen daily, young men and women continue to join the military. Although the Army missed its recruiting goals in May and June, all four services exceeded their goals last year. More than 80,000 recruits joined the Army, 36,000 the Navy and 30,000 the Air Force. An additional 32,000 joined the Marine Corps. In June, 4,113 Marine recruits signed up, exceeding the monthly goal of 3,742.

Daniel Motamedi didn't just join. He talked Daryl Crookston and Steven Dellinger — all friends since seventh grade — into signing up with him under the Corps' buddy program, which puts recruits into the same platoon for the 13-week boot camp. Enduring the rigors together made joining more attractive for the three, promising a sort of long-term camping trip and perpetual boys' night out, with guns. Ali says the prospect of his son serving with friends helped persuade him to sign Daniel's papers.

Another friend, Flor Negrete, also visited the Marine recruiting office in nearby Canyon Country at Daniel's urging. Ultimately, she signed up too.

There is much more in this long story that covers five internet pages. What you find is that the corps is getting some quality recruits who are patriotic and smart. You can tell this must have been a hard story for the Times to produce by its own statement on "the stereotype of Marine recruits — poor blacks and Latinos from the inner cities, lower-class whites from the rural South and Midwest, troubled kids escaping broken homes." I think the stereotype never really fit and it does not fit these new recruits either. These young people are not joining because they are losers, but because they want to be a part of the best. I think they will never regret the decision. I know I never have.


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