N.J. National Guard Shows Off to Win Recruits

Don Borden, the school superintendent in Audubon, N.J., talks with Steve Inskeep about a recent National Guard recruiting stunt at a local high school. A Black Hawk helicopter landed on the football field and carried some teachers away to nearby Fort Dix. There they learned about what the Guard offers new recruits.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The National Guard is using a unique tactic to improve its chances when recruiting. In New Jersey, the Guard landed a Black Hawk helicopter on the football field of Audubon High School. A crowd of students watched as their teachers and principal boarded that helicopter; they were flown to Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Don Borden, the principal, went along for the ride. And he is now the Audubon School District's superintendent.

Superintendent Borden, welcome.

Mr. DON BORDEN (Superintendent, Audubon School District, New Jersey): Thank you. How are you?

INSKEEP: Doing fine, thanks. Can you describe the ride to Fort Dix?

Mr. BORDEN: Certainly the first time I've ever been in Black Hawk. An adventure would be the best way to put it, I'd say.

INSKEEP: And you flew over the romantic landscapes of New Jersey...

Mr. BORDEN: Absolutely.

INSKEEP: ...and got to the base. And what did they do with you then?

Mr. BORDEN: They took us into their training facility and showed us many of the things that the students that they'll recruit will go through in their training as Guardsmen. It was also about what the Guards has to offer in terms of educational opportunities, career and pension possibilities. And certainly we knew this was a recruiting ploy on the part of the National Guard. I think all of us came away feeling that we had better information in terms of what our students would be getting involved with, as well as the risks, certainly.

INSKEEP: Now, when you and the other faculty members took the helicopter ride back to school, were you able to talk with each other over the roar of the helicopter blades?

Mr. BORDEN: Absolutely not. Maybe a shouted word or two.

INSKEEP: And was one of the words shouted back and forth, wow?

Mr. BORDEN: I think repeatedly, especially when the pilot treated us with some of his flying expertise, using that incredible piece of machinery. Wow, was, if I didn't yell it, I was certainly thinking it on a number of occasions.

INSKEEP: Have there been some teachers or parents in the school district who have said, wait a minute, don't take my kids away?

Mr. BORDEN: They have not come to me with that, but I would be surprised if somebody didn't think that. I respect that opinion. And if any parent had a concern about a recruiter approaching their child, we would certainly respect that concern.

INSKEEP: Have any of your students been signing up for the National Guard or for any other branch of the military?

Mr. BORDEN: We've always had a consistent percentage of our population join one of the branches of the service. I don't get the sense they're incredibly smaller as a result of some of the issues confronting our military today, and I also don't have the sense that they gone up at all as a result of this particular activity.

INSKEEP: Don Borden is superintendent of the Audubon School District in New Jersey.

Thanks very much.

Mr. BORDEN: Steve, thank you.

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