Story last updated at 10:21 AM on Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Activists speak on military recruiting, Iraq War



BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
STAFF WRITER

Two expert witnesses brought up to Homer last week to testify for the Homer Three missed their day in court when trespassing charges were dismissed against Hope Finkelstein, Michael LeMay and Debbie Poore. They refused to leave Homer High School last January after passing out fliers during a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter visit.

Last Thursday, those two witnesses, Jimmy Massey and Fernando Suarez del Solar, gave Homer a taste of what they might have said. Massey, a former Marine recruiter and co-founder of Iraq Veterans for Peace, told how he worked the system to get recruits and meet his quotas.

Suarez del Solar talked about his son, Marine Lance Corporal Jesus Suarez del Solar, killed by friendly fire a week after the invasion of Iraq on March 27, 2003. His son’s death led Suarez del Solar to speak out against the war and to counter recruitment efforts.

Massey, of Waynesville, N.C., presented a viewpoint the Homer 3 hoped to give high school students thinking about a military career. Massey said he lied to recruits — and then helped them lie if they had issues that made them unqualified.

“I was a very good liar and very good at helping applicants get through the process,” he said.

Many of the recruits wanted to join because they couldn’t afford college or had poor job prospects.

“I’m not here to bash the military,” Massey said. “I think the young men and women considering a military career — we owe them the truth.”

Eventually, Massey became disillusioned with what he was doing, and his recruiting numbers went down.

“I rebelled because I refused to lie to any more kids,” he said.

Suarez del Solar, of Escondido, Calif., gave the recruit’s perspective: how a young man enamored with the Marines, joined, became disillusioned — and then died for his country.

A quiet man in his 50s, Suarez del Solar began his talk by kissing his son’s dog tags that he wears around his neck. Jesus was killed March 27, 2003, in Iraq.

After Jesus’ death, Suarez del Solar began to speak out against the war and military recruiting.

“I continue to speak out. My son died for defending the Constitution,” Suarez del Solar said.

Massey and Suarez del Solar praised the Homer Three for trying to get access to schools to counter military recruiters.

“Three people made the beautiful example,” Suarez del Solar said. “Why not 100 go into the school? When the recruiters go inside, say, ‘No pass.’”

Massey suggested Homer hold a forum where recruiters and counter-recruiters could present both sides of the issue. Present recruiters with questions, he said.

“Then there are no ifs, ands or buts,” he said. “It’s up to the community to put the knowledge in the parents’ hands.”

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