CHICAGO – Mayor Richard Daley's (search) son, whose name and MBA from one of the nation's most prestigious universities would have opened doors to a lucrative career, has instead joined the Army and could be sent off to the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan.
Patrick Daley (search), 29, who got his master's degree from the University of Chicago in June, said he "always wanted to find a way to serve ... just like my grandfather and father." He said the Sept. 11 attacks played a role in his decision to enlist in the airborne infantry.
"Think of it. It's amazing. I get to serve my country," he told the Chicago Sun-Times, which disclosed his August enlistment in a story Tuesday.
The mayor said he was very proud of his son's decision. He said that he was concerned about his son's safety but did not try to talk him out of it.
"He believes that is part of public service," the mayor said.
The younger Daley will report during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to Fort Benning (search), Ga., where he will undergo basic training, advanced infantry training and airborne training for 20 weeks, said Bill Kelo, spokesman for the Army's recruiting battalion in Chicago. After that, Daley could be sent anywhere, including Iraq or Afghanistan, Kelo said.
Kelo said Daley asked that the Army not publicize his decision.
"He didn't want to make a big deal out of it," Kelo said. "He didn't want any special treatment, and he didn't want any special coverage."
Patrick Daley declined all interview requests Tuesday. He spoke only to the Sun-Times.
Patrick Daley, who briefly attended West Point as a college freshman and later graduated from the University of Illinois, comes from a famous Democratic family. His father was first elected mayor in 1989. His grandfather Richard J. Daley was Chicago's iron-fisted mayor for more than two decades before his death in 1976.
Typically, people with Daley's background sign up for officer training school rather than enlist. But he might make the Army his career, so "it's better to start out at the bottom," said the mayor.
The mayor, who served in the Army Reserves, declined to discuss his opinion about the war in Iraq but insisted "you stand by the president, you stand by the men and women in the military."
Patrick Daley joins a small roster of prominent people in the military today. Fewer than a dozen members of Congress have sons who have been on active duty since the Sept. 11, according to published reports.
NFL player Pat Tillman gave up a multimillion-dollar football career to join the Army after Sept. 11. He was killed in April in Afghanistan.
Joseph Goodwin, a 2001 graduate of Harvard University and the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (search), enlisted in the Army after Sept. 11.