Tuesday, November 16, 2004

All manner of men... 

Originally published in the Post Gazette, Pittsburgh, November 14, 2004:

Pistorius was honorably discharged from the Army in July 20, 2001. His certificate of release attests to his accomplishments: Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter qualification. The upper corner is the spot in which the military lists a departing member's reserve obligation, the amount of time discharged soldiers, sailors and Marines remain subject to recall. For Pistorius, the boxes contain a succession of zeroes.
Because he was discharged well after his prior reserve obligation had passed, the Army laid no further claim to him, until someone in St. Louis ignored those zeroes and went hunting for a fresh body to fill a manpower shortage that grows more painful with every Iraqi sunset.
"They basically told me that my Marine Corps time doesn't count as military service," Pistorius said. Faced with a threat of AWOL charges, and worried that a spotless military record was about to be stained, Pistorius headed last month to Camp McGrady in South Carolina.
"The first thing they did was thank us for showing up," Pistorius said. "They had 150 that were supposed to show up and about 75 did. Of those 75 maybe only 40 or 50 are medically fit."