He's a volunteer, 19.6 years old, making him about six months older than his grandfather was when drafted to serve in Word War II and Korea or his father was when conscripted for Vietnam. He isn't old enough to buy a beer, and if he were back home in the United States, we'd call him a boy. But because he's in uniform and fighting a war, we call him a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine.
He has a short haircut and tight muscles, and wears a four-pound Kevlar helmet and an eighteen-pound flak jacket to work. He can march all day in one-hundred degree heat with a sixty-pound pack on his back. This young man in uniform knows how to use every weapon in his unit and can fieldstrip and reassemble his own weapon in less than a minute - in the dark. Over here he's gone weeks without bathing but cleans his weapon every day.
He's proud to be serving his country, reveres his commander in chief, and knows that he is respected in return. While he is modest about his own courage and military prowess, he's absolutely certain that his is the toughest unit in the U.S. Armed Forces.
When he gets home, he won't talk much about the horror of war and probably won't have post-traumatic stress disorder, but he will want more fresh milk, salads, and homemade cookies than anyone ever thought possible. When he goes to a ballgame or some formal event, he'll resent those who carelessly ignore the national anthem when it's played or don't join in when the pledge of allegiance is recited. He'll put his hand over his heart, gaze at the American flag, and sing or recite proudly and loudly.
-Oliver L. North-