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War Recruiting Steady, Marine Dad Angry

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A thousand San Diegans marked the fourth anniversary of war in Iraq with a protest this weekend.Even as the nation grows weary, the military is still finding enough men and women to serve. The Pentagon says all four active-duty services met or exceeded recruiting goals for February. The Marine Corps added nearly 1,800 service members.

Major John McDonough heads up Marine recruiting in San Diego. He says the Marines stay on message.

McDonough: We don't talk about, get a free education, learn technical skills, travel around the world. What we talk about is moral, mental, physical excellence. Frankly it works for us.

It may work for the Marines, but one San Diego man says recruiters betrayed his son. He's on a mission to get them out of high schools. Here's KPBS Radio's Andrew Phelps.

Six years ago, Jesus Juarez Del Solar joined the Marine Corps. His father Fernando reluctantly gave his blessing. Juarez says recruiters visited Valley High School in Escondido, flaunting money for college and short service times.

Juarez: He told me, "It 's only one year, father! It's only one year. It's the peacetime, it's the training.

That turned out not to be true. Juarez says recruiters target young people in poor neighborhoods -- with incomplete information.

Juarez: Jesus never received information that he need to pay the uniform, pay the supplies, pay the life insurance.

Lance Corporal Juarez left for Iraq on March 19, 2003. One week later, he was killed.

His father addressed the protestors this weekend.

Juarez: (In Spanish) We have to get the lying military recruiters out of our schools.

Next week, on the anniversary of his son's death, Juarez plans a 40-hour fast on the steps of the downtown federal building. For KPBS, I'm Andrew Phelps.

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