Monday, June 14, 2004

The Rumsfeld Army: Faster, Lighter . . . Older? 

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: You know the old cliche about war -- "old men sending young men off to die"? Well, not so fast:
One of the first casualties this month in Iraq was New Jersey National Guardsman Frank Carvill, who was 51 when he died in an attack on his convoy in Baghdad.

The oven-strength heat of Iraq apparently felled Louisiana National Guardsman Floyd Knighten, who collapsed last August as he traveled in a convoy. He was 54.

Illinois National Guardsman William Chaney succumbed May 18 to complications following surgery for an internal infection 10 days after he took ill in Iraq. He was 59.

In Iraq - contrary to the famous contention of World War II Gen. Douglas MacArthur - old soldiers do die.

Since the start of the war, 10 U.S. troops aged 50 or older have died on duty in Iraq and environs. Add in deaths of those 40 and older and the toll climbs to 61 . . . .

But senior soldiers were significantly more likely to die of medical causes than the rest of the U.S. force. Sixty percent of the soldiers over 50 who died did so due to either heart attacks, brain aneurysms or other ailments. In contrast, just 4 percent of all the war dead have perished for medical reasons . . . .

The number of older casualties, and the percentage that are auxiliary forces, are both likely to increase now that citizen-soldiers are being deployed in greater numbers to the region. After a mass rotation of forces in and out of Iraq, National Guard and Reserve troops are on track to comprise nearly 40 percent of the 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq . . . .

Williams and Lou Leto, spokesman for the Reserve Officers Association, said that whatever older troops lack in physical prowess, they more than make up for with their accumulated experience and savvy. Younger troops often seek out their older counterparts for guidance on everything from military matters to affairs of the heart, other experts said.
Tired of worrying about your teenage kids being shipped off to Iraq? Now, thanks to the far-sighted, expert planning of our civilian leadership at the Pentagon, you can start worrying about your middle-aged dad being shipped off to Iraq.

Guardsman Frank Carvill is eulogized by Jimmy Breslin here:
'I told him, 'Frank, you're 51. You can't go there.'" Rick Rancitelli was saying. This was Friday afternoon and he was sitting in church at the wake of his friend, Staff Sgt. Frank Carvill, who was in his uniform in the casket in front of the altar. He was killed the other day in Iraq, where at his age, and with a dependent mother with failing eyesight, he didn't have to be . . . .

"He said to us," Rancitelli said, "'How can I not go when married guys are going? I have to go.' If you knew him, that's what he was. He was a true patriot. He didn't think we belonged in Iraq. But people in his outfit were going. That meant he had to go."

He was supposed to be home yesterday on a two-week leave, but somebody was put ahead of him on the plane and he had to stay in Iraq.

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