Parents blame military for
death of Pfc. Linus van Pelt, 9

The distraught parents of slain soldier Linus van Pelt have lashed out in their grief at the U.S. military, and the recruiter who enlisted their then seven-year-old son.

Pfc. Linus van Pelt

"Bwa bwa-bwa bwaa, bwa bwa-bwaa," said Linus' mother Lucille van Pelt, in her native tongue. Loosely translated, it refers to military recruiters as lying sacks of excrement.

Linus' father Tim van Pelt criticized the Army for interfering with the investigation into his son's death.

"Gwa-dwa mwa-fwa braws-haws," he said.

Recruiter Thomas Flanagan had promised Linus a position in the Army pumpkin squad, and helped him obtain a fake high school diploma. Linus found no pumpkins in Baghdad, but impressed the other soldiers in his unit with his ability to flick away roadside bombs with his blanket.

He was killed in April 2004 in Tikrit, several months after his original enlistment period had ended.

Out of respect for the family, the Army's public relations team painted Linus as a hero. Sadly, that recruitment tool was lost when a recent security breach allowed the family to learn that Linus had been killed by friendly fire.

The majority of Americans strongly support wars to protect our freedoms in oil-producing countries on the opposite side of the planet. Many support the troops by displaying "support our troops" stickers on their SUVs.

Thomas Flanagan

And yet, while many citizens are happy to send brave young soldiers to die needlessly in some arid hellhole undergoing a civil war, recruiting offices are strangely quiet. No one knows why.

Some recruiters have bent the rules to meet their quotas. A few have turned to elementary students, who are much easier to hornswoggle.

"He told Linus he could stay up late," said friend Sgt. "Peppermint" Patty Reichart, 11, also recruited by Flanagan. "And that he wouldn't have to take orders from his older sister. And that mess halls served candy for supper. And that he'd defend our freedoms and bring peace to the Middle East."

"He didn't mention things like an incompetent, irresponsible commander-in-chief that couldn't lead his way out of a sand trap," Patty added. "#@*!%, man, don't write that down."

Flanagan denies he deceived any of the 15 elementary students he recruited. Still, he is voluntarily retiring next month.

"I need to meet more people," Flanagan said. "I'm starting a new job in ... Maytag repair. Yeah, that's the ticket ... Maytag repair."

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