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The average age of the Infantryman is 19 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who,
under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man,
half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer,
but old enough to die for his country. He
never really cared much for work and he would rather
wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has
never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average
pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy,
and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he
or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.
He listens to rock and roll or hip hop or rap or jazz or swing and
155mm Howitzers.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because
he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him,
but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble
it in less-in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature
of a machine gun or grenade
launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a
He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation,
but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues:
he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens
full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth,
but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his
own clothes,
and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with
if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with
in the midst of battle when you run low. He has learned to use his
hands like weapons and
weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life -
or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the
pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more
suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.
He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create
He has wept in public and in
private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through
his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning
desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered
to stand, remove their hat, or
even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out,
far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather,
he is paying the price for our freedom.
Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free
for over 200 years. He has asked nothing in return,
except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect
and admiration with his blood
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