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Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Toys for Tots? How about "Guns for Gangs"?

News has it (don't miss the video) that Marines from Parris Island have been coming to South Carolina's capitol city offering assistance to local gang members. You know. Teach 'em tactical manuevers. That sort of thing. In fact, the relationship between the military and gangs has gotten so cozy that military police are warning cities all across America to be on the lookout. Not to be an alarmist, but I think this says something about our society.

Come Christmastime, maybe the Marines should start a new program to go along with Toys for Tots. They could call it "Guns for Gangs." Might not have quite as good a recruiting angle as Toys for Tots, but it would be a bit more honest. Tots, incidentally, didn't do too well at the hands of Marines in Iraq, most notably, perhaps, as the gang massacred innocent men, women, and children at Haditha.

Writing as a four-year Army veteran, Vietnam Era, I'm reminded of the kinda folks you can get thrown in with when you sign up for the military. Like the night - 'round 2 a.m. actually - when someone came in drunk, drugged, both, or whatever, picked a fight, and slashed a guy's face - in the dark - multiple times with one of those little razor-sharp knives ('bout the size of fingernail clippers) that fit on key chains.

Ah, the marvels of Uncle Sam's communal living arrangements. Its another one of those things recruiters somehow forget to mention. I could recount more "war stories," but if you haven't gotten the picture by now, it probably wouldn't do any good.

This thing about gangs in the military also reminds me of the gang-style savagery dished out to Marine recruit Jason Tharp, the teenager who wanted out of the military and then drowned during "training." Forced to tread water, Jason was surrounded by Marine swim instructors as he went under possibly six times, screamed repeatedly to be let out of the pool, finally succumbed to exhaustion and coughed, gagged, or vomitted before bobbing to the surface unresponsive.

Come to think of it, havin' military recruiters on school grounds may not be such a good idea after all.

Only one media outlet dared to publish the horrifying details of Jason's death:

Update 12/14/2014 - A smattering of more recent articles - such as this one - suggest that military personnel supplying guns to gangs is continuing. As word spreads about the kind of environment folks are exposed to in the military, no wonder there's a renewed interest in reviving the draft. It takes lots of fresh cannon fodder to fight ol' Sammy's never-ending, imperialistic, undeclared wars.

Update 5/4/2015 - Military personnel assisting gangs is continuing, evidenced by last month's story about Army reservists plotting to sell guns, ammo, and body armor to Mexican drug cartels. Nuthin' like the desire to lend a helping hand...