News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 8, 2012

RONN MOTT: Senior Guard

During the six day Egypt-Arab-Israeli war, I gave serious thought to joining the Israeli defense forces. They had said they would take people from other countries that were past normal military age. I once had a super-secret clearance in the Air Force, but by the time I had made a few  phone calls about my security clearances, the entire war was over and the trail of destroyed Russian tanks stretched from the Israeli border through Gaza and on to the Suez Canal. Obviously, I wasn’t needed.

The premise was rather simple: There has not been an Israeli war where their forces were not out-numbered 10-1, 15-1, 20-1, etc. The thinking was, at the time, ex-military men who know how to take orders, could drive a truck or jeep, stand guard duty and fill a lot of positions that would free up young Israeli soldiers, and add themselves to the fighting force.

Jerry White, ex-Air Force and retiree from Eli Lilly, is one of my neighbors. A couple of times a week we have long chats when he is out tending to his lawn. Jerry had received an e-mail from someone named Joyce Smiley. Smiley (I don’t know if this is a man or woman) included a picture of a man over age 60 and certainly looks overweight and out of shape. The e-mail is long and is about sending old guys off to war rather than 18-year-olds. I took it to be humorous, but it makes a lot of sense. Standing there talking, Jerry White said, “You and I have done what we have wanted to do, we’ve raised our families, are veterans, and we’re a whole lot closer to the end rather than the beginning. If you and I were killed, they would not be killing a future Nobel Prize winner, a physicist, or a Ph.D. in philosophy. And when a young man gets killed, his entire future was ahead of him, while most of our lives are behind us.”

While the image of a group of 50, 60, or 70-year olds trudging along an Afghanistan trail may seem a little ridiculous, in reality it is not. If we keep playing policemen to the world it is going to extinguish those young men from our demographic pool. The old-timers described earlier, are capable of driving various vehicles, and could help carry wounded to helicopters. We could stand guard some place. You could call us the “Senior Service.” And my thought is, we serve six months at a time. When I suggested this to a woman I know, she said, “It sounds great, Ronn, but who’s going to remind you to take your medicine?”

Obviously, I haven’t given this an enormous amount of thought, but someone who has served his military time and is rather bored with retirement just might fill a need. I would imagine, if we were fed and clothed, you wouldn’t have to pay us as much as you would an 18-year-old. With few exceptions, we’re a whole bunch smarter than most of these recruits.

I never did shoot in anger, or get shot at. But think about this … my neighbor, Jerry, is absolutely correct … we could do a lot of good for the country and let somebody else worry about the lawn.

Tell Uncle Sam I have a pair of Air Force brogans I was issued in August of 1956. I’ve only re-soled them one time. I think they still have some wear left in them. So does Jerry White, and so does Ronn Mott.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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