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It's been nearly two years since USA Today interviewed Jeremy Staat, Pat Tillman's college room mate:
"Pat was always about pushing himself to the breaking point, and then going beyond that," says Jeremy Staat, who played with Tillman at ASU and is now with the Los Angeles Avengers arena football team. "To know him is not to be able to describe him."We caught up with Staat yesterday - he's now a Marine.
Their bond was brotherly. As Tillman was deployed, he asked his agent to check on Staat. "Here he's going into a war, and he's making sure someone is going to check on me," Staat says.
The two buddies were "headstrong, confident and arrogant," Staat says. This led to heated discussions that "were almost physical." This always impressed Staat, who at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds towered over his 5-foot-11 pal. But Tillman never backed down.
Staat says he has mixed feelings about sharing his thoughts, but "I also feel he needs to be remembered," he says.
He describes a casual college kid who kept his mattress on the floor until Marie persuaded him to spruce up the place with a bed frame. A guy who would be contrary just to spice up a conversation but also have your back on the field the instant you needed help.
And then there is a recollection of a keepsake, treasured long before today's climate in which national hearts often are worn on sleeves. Though Tillman was a football standout with a 3.84 GPA, the only trophy on his apartment wall was a small piece of paper with childlike artwork.
"It was a hand-drawn American flag. That's all that was up there," he says. "Nothing about himself or what he'd accomplished. Just that flag."
There were certain reasons for joining that went beyond the passing of Pat Tillman, according to Staat.But even this former NFL defender found Marine training tough to tackle:
“The big reason was because I was just really disgusted with the amount of money entertainers get and what they pay troops overseas,” said Staat. “It didn’t seem right that we pay all those entertainers millions to catch a football and we pay our Marines pennies to a dollar to catch a bullet,” said Staat.
Determined to leave, Staat spoke with a recruiter and left as soon as possible.
“I came in two months early, like ‘Let’s get it on,’” said Staat. “I wanted to be a part of something that is going to live forever instead of getting trophies. What are trophies good for – collecting dust? Most trophies get thrown in the garage. Who knows where they go after that?”
Arriving at the depot, Staat did what he could to keep his past under wraps, but within five hours of his landing, his secret was out.
Staat said a drill instructor asked the 77-inch stack of muscle if he played football. “I played a little in college,” said Staat, who enlisted to become a machine gunner.
Since entering recruit training, Staat realized he wasn’t used to the strenuous environment.At least he got a chance to prove himself - most American youth never will. Yesterday's story also brought about a discussion on "lowered standards" for new Army recruits, and today the AP offers a very timely story on that topic:
“I’ve run three miles four times in my life, once at (Military Entrance Processing Station), and three times here,” said Staat.
Staat said he found it amusing that people pay for the training that Marines are paid to complete.
“They train you to keep in shape. They put you on a diet,” said Staat. “People pay to do that.”
Staat recalled a day during training when his company ran the obstacle course. There are a number of high walls, logs and bars to get over throughout the course including the rope, which is strung from a high beam of wood to the ground. Staat attempted to climb the rope but failed. He was trained on the proper techniques, he got a second chance.
Staat’s senior drill instructor told him to climb the rope again. One of the many things that are stressed during training is bearing, but when Staat climbed to the top of the rope, he broke his bearing and smiled.
“I asked him what happened the first time and he smiled and said, ‘This recruit didn’t have the technique down, sir,’” said Staff Sgt. Miguel R. Saenz, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1065.
“I was just happy,” said Staat. “I had never climbed a rope before.”
"Uncle Sam wants you," that famous Army recruiting poster says. But does he really?For a more detailed look at standards, read this. (And links to recruiters have always been available in the "Join" section of our sidebar.)
Not if you're a Ritalin-taking, overweight, Generation Y couch potato -- or some combination of the above. A tattoo also can be grounds for rejection.
The Census Bureau estimates that the overall pool of people who would be in the military's prime target age has shrunk as the U.S. society ages. There were 1 million fewer 18- to 24-year-olds in 2004 than in 2000, the agency says.
The pool shrinks to 13.6 million when only high-school graduates and those who score in the upper half on a military-service aptitude test are considered.
Other factors include:
-The rising rate of obesity. About 30 percent of U.S. adults are considered obese.
-A decline in physical fitness. One-third of teenagers are thought to be incapable of passing a treadmill test.
-A near-epidemic rise in the use of Ritalin and other stimulants to treat attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD). Potential recruits are ineligible for military service if they have taken such a drug in the previous year.
Other potential recruits are rejected because they have criminal histories or too many dependents. Subtract 4.4 million from the pool for these people and for the overweight.
Others can be rejected for medical problems, from blindness to asthma. The Army estimate has subtracted 2.6 million for this group.
That leaves 4.3 million fully qualified potential recruits and an estimated 2.3 million more who might qualify if given waivers on some of their problems.
The bottom line: There are a total of 6.6 million potential recruits from all members of the 32 million-person age group.
In the budget year that ended in September, 15 percent of recruits required a waiver in order to be accepted for active-duty services -- or about 11,000 people of about 73,000 recruited.
Most waivers were for medical problems. Some were for misdemeanors such as public drunkenness, resisting arrest or misdemeanor assault -- prompting criticism that the Army is lowering its standards.
And of course there are "others" who will never serve - waivered or not. Teddy Roosevelt once described them as "...those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are."
But as TR also noted, "It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.""
There are also those who try to serve but are unable too, because of conditions that are not within their control. I was born with a congenital heart condition. Although this was repaired at the age of 1 day. The fix left me with abnormal heart anatomy even thou my heart functions normally. This condition has left me disqualified from service with the Army and Marine Corps. I lost over 130 pounds in order to join and am writing the commandant of the Marine Corps pleading to get in.Posted by Iceman at March 14, 2006 12:24 AM
If there's anyone at Mudville that knows German salutes it's certainly good ol' Wilson Kolb. Nice to have you back by the way.Posted by kolbtheidiot at March 14, 2006 03:27 AM
I sure wish you'd stayed wherever you were, Kolb. I didn't miss you at all! You're not amusing, nor do you show very much intelligence. I'm an older lady & have never to my knowledge been deliberately rude to anyone, but I guess you just bring out such responses. Surely your mother taught you better!Posted by MissBirdlegs in AL at March 14, 2006 04:29 AM
Considering what this blog represents to many of its readers and, in particular, what the subject of this post concerns, decorum demands that a certain juvenile cretin be banned. I visit almost every day, but won’t be inclined to any more if half of the comments are produced by the same insignificant and useless twit. Of course, I guess I should feel sorry for someone whose father is in jail and whose mother is walking the streets.
Hey, some of us can't get waivers.
Eyesight for me. After five years of trying I don't think there's a way in.Posted by Spade at March 14, 2006 07:55 AM
"-The rising rate of obesity. About 30 percent of U.S. adults are considered obese."
Those are the standards initiated by the government in the late 1990s. They were done by a small population sampling. It place Michael Jordan, in his prime, into the overweight category. It should have been an Hmmmmm moment for everyone.
The previous standards had been derived from decades of data collected by insurance companies who's interest were driven by monetary concerns and not getting their names published in a fancy self-important medical journal. Recently we come to read that people in the new slightly overweight category are healthier than those in the new acceptable category. I suspect that the obesity epidemic is greatly enhanced by paper loving bureaucrats than real science.
This posted by someone who in 1972 had to sign a waiver for the Army for being underweight. Didn't stop me from puttin in twenty.Posted by Don at March 14, 2006 01:46 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)