Sunday, December 12, 2004

Retired Army colonel, 70, sent to Afghanistan

This is what happens when the same folks who defined "mission accomplished" define "all volunteer Army."

Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.

"My first reaction was disbelief," Caulfield said. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old."

In fact, he was so sure it was an error that he ignored the postcards and telephone messages asking if he would be willing to volunteer for active duty to "backfill" somewhere on the East Coast, Europe or Hawaii. That would be OK, he thought. It would release active duty oral surgeons from those areas to go to combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But then the orders came for him to go to Afghanistan.
His wife of 47 years, Patricia, said she thought a cruise through the Panama Canal they took after he gave up his private practice would be the most adventurous experience they would have after retirement.

"I feel a lot more comfortable than when he was in Vietnam," she said. "This is a great way to finish his career."

On the one hand, I guess you have to honor his willingness to serve. On the other, I am reminded of the smart-ass definition of a jury.


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