Recruiting up despite increased casualties in Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Recruiting up despite increased casualties in Iraq

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April 19, 2004

Albany- 19 year old Tommy Canty graduated from Westover last spring, and now he's on his way to boot camp.

"I just really don't want to go to school right now after I graduated from high school, and then my brother's in the Navy also," he says.

He says he's excited to begin the next chapter of his life and isn't really worried about the growing number of troops dying in Iraq.

"I'm ready as I can be. Once I experience it, I'll see how I feel about it."

Other recruits don't seem to be worried either. 18 year old Santana Tipton hasn't even graduated from high school yet, but she knows exactly why she just joined the Air Force.

"Basically to pretty much get on my feet quick and to get my college out of the way without my parents having to pay for it," she says.

But what they don't pay for in tuition, they may pay for in concern.

"I'm frightened because they are still fighting over there, and I know when they go through boot camp they can be shipped right over there and that's frightening," admits Canty's mother Vernice.

This is like deja vu for her. Tommy's, older brother Chris joined the Navy 13 years ago, and has already seen combat once in Iraq. She was surprised when Tommy decided to follow in his brother's footsteps, and even more shocked to find out Tommy enlisted for 6 years, two years longer than she expected.

But even the parents' worrying and continuing fighting overseas aren't stopping teens from enlisting.

"Recruiting has been going excellent. They're joining like gangbusters here and all over the country," says U. S. Air Force recruiter Sgt. Jason Caldwell.

"I've got 55 people right now in what we call my delayed entry program waiting to go to boot camp," adds U. S. Marine recruiter Sgt. Jeff Schlarb.

Recruiters say the number question they get from young people isn't even about war at all.

"The question is always how is basic training, what's basic training like," Caldwell says.

"Is it as bad as I see on TV? Full Metal Jacket is an awesome movie, but as far as boot camp they all think that's what it's really like and its not," Schlarb says.

Canty and Tipton will soon find out what boot camp is like and with bags packed and smiles of their faces, they say they're up to the challenge.

Recruiters say they've even gotten calls from students as young as eighth and ninth grade inquiring about beginning a military career.

Posted at 5:00 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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