Iraq war, US marines try recruiting 85-year-old

US Marine recruiting, cartoon

From the Google cache.

War in Iraq: US marines try to recruit 85-year-old

Date: 10/15/05 at 6:16PM

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The Marines are looking for recruits to join the few and the proud.

This explains the one-page letter that arrived last month in Barbara Mercer’s Seattle mailbox.

“Now is the time to put your unique language skills to the test as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” wrote Brig. Gen. W.E. Gaskin.

“Your command of the Arabic language will be invaluable. …

We’ll push your physical and mental limits beyond anything you’ve ever known.”

Mercer speaks English and converses in French, albeit with an American accent as thick as crème brûlée.

“But Arabic?” she chuckles. “I don’t even speak a word of that.”

Mercer is certainly not game for physical duress to forge what the letter refers to as “a bond that cannot be broken.”

She might end up breaking a bone or two. “I’m 85 years old,” Mercer explains.

With the Iraq war, recruiting for the US armed forces goes so badly now, that earlier rules on criminal records, drug use, and maximum age have been scrapped.

“Even” gay people recently, contrary to before, became de facto welcome to die on the Iraq battefields; though still extremely unwelcome in barracks in the United States itself, Germany, or the many other countries with US troops and no war going on.

The Capitol Hill resident was “distressed” about why the military would be looking for recruits among octogenarians.

She fired off a letter to military brass.

“Dear General Gaskin,” she began, “Recently I received a copy of your obviously mass produced letter. …”

The general hasn’t replied. …

Mercer was miffed from the moment she opened her letter.

In her reply to the Marines, she didn’t hold back.

She said she knew why the military is having a hard time attracting recruits.

“The reason,” Mercer wrote, “is perfectly obvious: Young Americans don’t want any part of current imperial U.S. wars in the Middle East, conflicts which are illegal and immoral, and constitute gross violations of our democratic principles.”

Critics of Mercer’s perspective may think, what does she know? Has she even seen battlefield bravery or bloodshed up close?

It turns out she has.

During World War II, Mercer volunteered to serve as an Air Corps flight nurse.

In 1945, she left the service as a first lieutenant.

“I became a pacifist,” she tells me.

“Bringing the wounded home I saw the results of war and felt, never again.”

Mercer’s 84-year-old husband, Lyle, a former Army paratrooper, shares his wife’s way of thinking.

They have protested every war since World War II.

The couple spent the day before their 60th wedding anniversary last month taking part in the big peace gathering at Westlake Center.

They share a military background.

They share a pro-peace point of view.

One thing they don’t share is having received a letter from the Marines.

Mercer’s husband didn’t get one bearing his name, which is just as well.

It would have meant one more piece of junk mail to toss.

War in Iraq means less armed forces recruits in Britain: here.

Britain: scandal of deaths in Deepcut barracks of army recruits.

17 thoughts on “Iraq war, US marines try recruiting 85-year-old

  1. You would be an idiot to want to see dead and mangled bodies. Or worse, a phsychopath. The point of war is not to cause soldiers to die, but to prevent INNOCENTS from dying or being tortured. A soldier is trained for it and should expect it. We are NOT imperial. We have saved millions of women from subjugation and sex slavery in Iraq and countless children from imprisonment and torture. Comparing the war in Iraq to imperialism is the grossest kind of slander, malicious propoganda, or downright ignorance. Go to Iraq and speak to the people. Your viewpoint on peace is twisted as well. Lobby for peace while your head is being viciously sawed off with a pocket knife or with a gun to your children’s or grandchildren’s head and see where it gets you. The terrorists have no such idealism. That is why we fight.

    – a US Marine


  2. Hi steven odle, I have seen your page, and it contains anti gay bigotry and anti science creationist lunacy. So, perhaps, it is not strange that your views on the Iraq war are delusional as well. “to prevent INNOCENTS from dying or being tortured”. Over a million innocent Iraqis have died since Bush invaded in 2003. And do you know about the torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and elsewhere? You can search with those search phrases in my blog if you don’t know. The situation for women in Iraq is much worse now than before 2003. “Go to Iraq and speak to the people.” The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush, and the mass demonstrations of Iraqis supporting him, speak for themselves.

    You may not know it, but the electorate in the USA has just rejected Bush and his Iraq war by electing Obama.


  3. wow – You don’t know how to read. Try reading my blogs again at There is NOTHING anti gay or anti science on there.


  4. Re #3: you are off topic on the subject, the Iraq war.

    Your “Evolution and Gays and Lesbians and Genetics” is not anti science … IF you religiously believe old Middle East religious texts are science, while the whole of biology, geology and palaeontology and all their evidence are supposedly not.

    You are the same as the Taliban … well, actually Islamic religious fundamentalists usually concede that extinct species may be millions or billions years old, while being in denial on evolution. While Christian creationists believe life on earth is only 6,000 years old, making them worse than Muslim fundamentalists.

    Your belief in “curing” gays and lesbisns is “not homophobic” … IF you believe that discrimination is not evil. There used to be people like you in the nineteenth century saying that enslaving Africans was not anti-African … as slavery was supposedly doing Black people a favour.


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