- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Gipe had been considering joining the Army to pay for college. The terrorist attacks against the very symbols of American power steeled his resolve.

He went straight to an Army office here yesterday morning, filled out paperwork and answered recruiters' questions. The 24-year-old hopes to be in basic training in two weeks.

"As an American, I feel like I owe something to my country," Mr. Gipe said. "Our freedom has been put in jeopardy, and I want to be someone who helps defend that."

Across the country, military recruitment offices reported a jump in visitors and phone calls in the hours after the New York and Washington attacks. Recruiters heard from angry teen-agers as well as somber veterans just wanting to know how they could help.

An Army major in Florida called it a "patriotic swell" among Americans whose first reaction, after the horror wore off, was an urge to enlist to defend their country.

In Bakersfield, Calif., the Army recruitment office took dozens of calls and walk-ins Tuesday and yesterday — three to four times the normal activity, station commander Warren K. Hurley said.

At the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, students who had once opposed a military draft said the sight of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks had changed their minds.

"I'd be happy to go to the draft now," said Zach Smith, 20.

Calls poured in to Marine Corps recruiting offices in Colorado and Wyoming, with citizens saying they felt a responsibility to their country and wanted to know what they could do.

"People need to realize that freedom is never free, and I think that this has really brought that to the forefront of everybody's minds," said Maj. Mark Aeppli. "Oftentimes, we take our freedoms for granted, and things like this unfortunately are what's sometimes needed for people to realize how precious they are."

Until recently, high-paying jobs in the private sector have made it difficult for the armed services to attract young people. The challenge has continued even in a slumping economy.

All branches of the military require recruits to be at least 17, have a high school diploma, pass a basic aptitude test and undergo a physical. Processing time — from walk-in to the start of military training — can take as little as 10 days.

The outpouring yesterday reminded some officers of what happened during the Gulf war, when there was also a rise in enlistments. Other officers said they had never seen interest at this level.

"They say they have their bags packed, and they're ready to support their country," said Army Capt. Janice Gravely, who served in Bosnia. "I've seen how other countries don't have the luxuries we have. I am so happy we have others who are ready to help."


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