Where do we find such men?

Hawaii man seeks new start as Army recruit at 40

His 40-year-old father is joining the Army. After nine weeks of basic training and then some more instruction, he'll be assigned to a post as Pfc. Clayton Beaver. Soon after, there's a good chance he'll end up in Iraq or Afghanistan. The boy is excited, sad and a little worried all at the same time.


The Army and Beaver have turned to each other out of desperation. Beaver, who had never seriously considered military service as a young man, needed a steady job, income, health benefits. An already strained Army, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan while maintaining its presence elsewhere in the world, is struggling to make recruiting quotas.


"This is for Kalani," he says, while driving. He envisions better schools for his son and unique experiences for the entire family. As a private first class, he will earn only about $18,400 a year — less than some fast-food workers make. But Army benefits from educational aid to housing allowances more than offset the meager salary, he believes.


"I don't want him to have to worry about money," Beaver says. "I want him to see everything the Mainland or Europe has to offer. I want him to see the Grand Canyon, the White House, a Major League baseball game. ... I want to have a little money to take him on a vacation. I want him to dream about doing something big. It's hard to dream here; people are trapped. The Army is the only way for me to do it."


Five weeks later and 25 pounds lighter, Beaver stands at attention with other recruits at Fort Jackson. A drill sergeant pins medals on the seven soldiers among the 54 in Beaver's platoon who have won sharpshooter awards for above-average shooting with their M-16 rifles. Beaver — who, other than hunting a few times as a child, had never handled guns before — is one of the sharpshooters; he hit a distant target on 30 of 40 shots.

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- hfs

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