Susan Milligan is visiting six Election 2012 battleground states to talk with 50-plus voters for a report that will be published in the September issue of the AARP Bulletin. She posted this from New Hampshire.
Henry S. Maxfield is proud to have fought for his country in World War II. And he lives in a state with the motto "Live Free or Die."
But when it comes to how much the country should invest in its military, Maxfield, 89, has his limits. "We're in wars we never should have been in,'' says Maxfield, sitting in the memento-filled living room of his home in Wolfeboro, which bills itself as "America's oldest summer resort."
Maxfield harbors no reluctance to sacrifice for his country. In 1944 he was a 20-year-old navigator on a B-24 when Germans shot his bomber down over Gelsenkirchen. Barely escaping the plane before it burst into flames, he was captured and sent to a POW camp. When the prisoners were lined up one day in front of men with machine guns, Maxfield recalls, he turned to the guy beside him and said, "If this is it, I've had a ball.''
Maxfield went on to work for the Central Intelligence Agency during the Korean War and to write more than a half-dozen books, including A Dangerous Man, which was later made into the 1967 motion picture The Double Man, starring Yul Brynner and Britt Ekland.
Today the financial and human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are on Maxfield's mind. And if the United States gets involved in Iran and Syria, he says, "We can't afford it.''
The presidential choices don't please him. He's not happy with how President Obama has handled things, and GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has pledged to expand the military.
Romney may hear about it up close: he has a summer home in Wolfeboro.