From the Revolution on, a family serves

In joining Guard, teen carries on legacy

December 30, 2005|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

In a small room at Fort Meade, 93-year-old Thomas Cadwalader Jr., dressed sharply in a gray suit with vest, looked out at family members yesterday and asked, "Is everybody ready?"

Everyone nodded.

"Ten-hut!" the Baltimore resident said quietly, as his neck and back stiffened, his chin rose and his arms rested at his sides, hands in fists.

In a moment, Cadwalader, a World War II veteran who retired in the 1960s as an Army lieutenant colonel, became a soldier again as he swore in his grandson Ian Cadwalader, 17, as a member of the Maryland National Guard.

Cadwalader family members looked on as Ian, a junior at North County High School in Linthicum, carried on a tradition that family members say dates to the American Revolution. Since then, every generation of the Cadwalader family, which came to Pennsylvania in 1697, has served in the military.

Yesterday, Ian Cadwalader joined the pack, entering the 290th Military Police Company in Parkville.

"My family has the minor distinction, if you will, of being patriotic," said Robert Cadwalader, 63, Ian's father, who served in the Army in Turkey, Japan and Korea during the Vietnam era. "It's not something where every member in the family runs around waving flags. Part of it is education, and part of it is understanding that if people don't stand on the wall, we'll be speaking Russian or Chinese in a heartbeat."

Military legacy families such as the Cadwaladers are not uncommon, but rarely does the history go back so far. U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, for instance, is the son and grandson of Navy admirals, and military service in his distant family also dates to Revolutionary War times.

"The military is probably one of the most inherited occupations in the American labor force," said David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

Segal said that in this decade, about 75 percent of military parents are likely to recommend service to their children, compared with lower figures in the 1990s. The National Guard, as well as the active-duty Army, has struggled to meet recruiting goals amid the Iraq war's casualties.

For Ian, family tradition and patriotism are all part of it. But what he really wants is to drive tanks.

The National Guard will put him through college at the University of Maryland or Towson University - he hasn't decided yet - and after that he hopes to be commissioned as an officer and transfer into an Army unit so he can "deal with tanks." His interest dates to his freshman year of high school, when he got to drive a tank simulator with his uncle while visiting a Pennsylvania National Guard post.

Yesterday, Ian took his oath in a room adorned with lush red carpet, U.S. and military insignia and state flags.

Of his official entry into the guard, Ian said he was excited - but not in the way he would be to get a new car.

"I just figured every generation of my family has served in the military, so why not keep the tradition?" he said.

Ian was more excited about the $205.90 a month he will get as a private for going to drill once a month. This summer, he will attend nine weeks of basic training and then return home for his senior year, after which he will complete his reserve training. Once that's done, he will get the first half of his $10,000 enlistment bonus. The other half will come after he completes his four-year commitment.

Ian can't be deployed before he finishes high school, something that offers some solace to his mother. Christina Cadwalader, 50, opposes his enlistment. She said she tried to persuade him to consider military intelligence, where his father worked. But he was set on being an MP after learning that the Maryland National Guard doesn't have tank companies.

"If he had to do it, why not that?" she said, chuckling nervously before Ian was sworn in. "I mean, I'm proud of him, proud that he will serve his country. And I know it's important to keep up the family tradition, but when it comes down to my son, it's a different story."

She knows from experience, as military service has run through her family, as well. Her father, Beryl Lanterman, who also attended the ceremony, served in the Korean War and flew more than a dozen types of planes as a Navy reservist.

Ian said he would be ready to go to Iraq if his unit were deployed and would serve gladly. The family is not anti-war, although his father believes the war is being carried out poorly.

Robert Cadwalader didn't serve in Vietnam, but he said he was still called a "baby-killer" when he came home from his military intelligence posts abroad in the late '60s. He said he is glad that public sentiment is supportive of the troops, although he hopes they engage in the right conflicts.

"Politicians will often do things without thinking them through," he said. "Look at Somalia. It wasn't planned properly, and many of the troops were brutally murdered by warlords. That's not what the military is for."

After Ian had sworn to uphold the U.S. and Maryland constitutions, Thomas Cadwalader shook his hand. Then Dad approached and did the same: "Congratulations, Private." Ian smiled sheepishly.

Then came Lanterman, his other grandfather: "Now remember, I outrank you tremendously."

Ian acknowledged as much.

Thomas Cadwalader wondered aloud why no one came to his induction ceremony, in another era. He has already sworn in another grandson, but he said he wasn't sure enlistment deserved so much pomp. Still, he was glad another family member was joining the ranks.

"Naturally," he said, "I more or less expected them to."bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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