Ron Paulson, 52-Year-Old Reservist, Killed in Iraq
Ron Paulson, a 52-year-old Individual Ready Reserve soldier from Washington state, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Ron Paulson spent 14 years in the Army and then another 13 years as an inactive reservist. At 52 years old, he was called up for active duty.
When Paulson finished his service in 1992, soldiers were given a choice – take a lump sum of $30,000 and be done, or take an annual payment of $7,000 with a catch. He said he went for the annual, but that meant he had to stay in the inactive reserve to get it, which is why he ended up getting called back in to service.
Paulson said that roadside bombs were his biggest concern. His family confirmed his death Wednesday.
Portland’s KATU has a short video report, which requires listening to a commercial first.
The story is carried by AP but the link above is, thus far, the only mention in GoogleNews. I got it via Bilmon, who titles his post “Catch-52” and remarks with incredulity, “We’re sending 52-year-old soldiers to die in Iraq.”
While it is often lamented that old men send young men off to die in wars, there are pretty good reasons to send our young if we must fight. Not only are young men generally more able to withstand the physical rigors of military service, their mental attitude is much more conducive. Certainly, I have a much different perspective on things like dangling from a helicopter from a rope, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (while in flight) and going into situations where angry foreigners with guns want to kill me at 40 than I had at 20, 22 and 25, respectively. Moreover, as tragic as the loss of a 19-year-old is to his parents and friends, they at least seldom have wives and children who depend on them.
On the other hand, Paulson made a not-unreasonable decision at the age of 39 that he would live more than four more years and that therefore $7,000 a year until he reached retirement age was a better deal than $30,000 in cash. He decided, even after the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and our going to war in Iraq in 2003, to remain in the IRR rather than resign. Certainly, he’d more than fulfilled the eight year obligation he’d incurred by volunteering.
Having only the evidence linked here (the video and AP report), I have no basis for knowing whether he remained in mostly because his family needed the $7000 to supplement his paycheck or because he was seriously willing to serve if called up. I don’t even know what rank he held. Still, Paulson wasn’t some 18-year-old with no propects but a grown man with a steady job.
This isn’t Nazi Germany in the last days of WWII or the Confederate States of America circa 1864, conscripting children and old men. Indeed, we haven’t had a draft since 1973–five years before Paulson first entered the Army as a 25-year-old. Those serving in Iraq all volunteered for military service. Once you do that, you go where you’re ordered.
All we can hope is that the cause for which they fight and die is just and that we can accomplish what we sent them over there to do. If we do that, at least Paulson won’t have died for nothing. If we don’t, Paulson’s death will be no less more or less tragic than all the others.