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Despite the mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf, Harvard seniors in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) said yesterday that they remain committed to the armed services.
These seniors agreed that, although the Middle East crisis has made them slightly apprehensive about combat service, the importance of military service is more apparent than ever before. They added that they hoped the crisis would cause other Harvard students to review their feelings about ROTC.
When they graduate, most of these students will enter another officer training program before being assigned to military action. Not all ROTC members are immediately assigned active duty, but many may find themselves in the Gulf next year if the crisis escalates.
"[If I were to be commissioned there], we'd be in the front line. I would be an infantry officer and I would defend the oil fields in northern Saudi Arabia, where the war would most likely start. The media has nicknamed the area the "Tripwire,'" said Nigel W. Jones '91, an ROTC Marine, adding that Marines and Army officers are most likely to be on the front lines in combat.
"I'm not an idiot. I don't want to die," continued Jones, who would command a platoon of forty men if sent to the area. "But I'm excited about joining the Marine Corps and I'm looking forward to doing my duty. I can't think of a better management and leadership experience."
Another ROTC Marine, William C. Kessler '91, said, "Harvard marines are different from--not better than--other college students in the Marines. We see that war is hell, but there's a duty that needs to be done. I guess that's a more rational approach."
Kessler added that "serving is a big decision for Harvard marines. Most Harvard marines have thought it out and have a good perspective on what it means to serve their country."
`Rise to the Challenge'
John Howard '91, an Army ROTC member, said he would like to post- pone his commission and go to law school inhopes of becoming a military lawyer, but he isready to serve his country.
"I'm prepared to go over to Saudi Arabia if thecountry calls on me," said Howard. "I'm not scaredbecause I've been well-trained to do a good job. Iam a good soldier and will make a good secondlieutenant."
And Army ROTC member Katherine A. Fehskens '91said, "I'm frightened that I might go into combat.You're training for if that situation arises, andyou're supposed to rise to the challenge."
And, while ROTC members asserted their owncontinued commitment to the armed services, theyadded they were hopeful that the Gulf crisis mighthelp other students see the importance of ROTCprograms.
"I hope that this whole crisis in the Gulf willmake students who are opposed to ROTC on campusrealize that Harvard has as much responsibility asany other educational institution to educate andtrain its interested students for leadership inthe armed services," said Jones. "Harvard can'tserve as some kind of oasis and dish service offsomewhere else.
"We have to hope that our politicians don't useand exploit love of country for unethical means.However, I'm very prepared to do my job. My job isto take orders, not dictate foreign policy," saidJones
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