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6-Year-Old Gets Military Birthday Party, Crewcut and All; Brass Not Amused

October 24, 1995

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Six-year-old Chase Lanting wanted a military-style birthday party. He got much more than just a GI Joe _ but the brass weren’t amused at the use of military vehicles in the stunt.

Robin and Bill Lanting invited 150 children and parents to ``Camp Lanting,″ gave the draftees personally engraved tags and had a barber on hand to give them crew cuts if they wanted.

The highlight of Sunday’s party came when a half-dozen National Guardsmen stormed the camp and pretended to kidnap Chase. The birthday boy screamed gleefully when a guardsman, his face shaded in brown and green, tossed him over his shoulder and hoisted him into a Humvee.

But it wasn’t funny to National Guard officials, who have launched an investigation into who sanctioned Guard participation and use of Humvees.

``These guardsmen were out on their own. They were doing it in a volunteer status. It was not a unit-sanctioned event,″ guard spokesmen John Daigle said from guard headquarters in Tallahassee.

``I was told that the family donated $500 to the unit’s family support fund,″ Daigle said. He said three Humvees, which are a sort of supersized Jeeps, were taken to the party by the guardsmen. The guardsmen were all enlisted men, Daigle said.

``We have begun an investigation ... to determine what happened and if there should be any repercussions,″ Daigle said.

The house in the family’s ritzy neighborhood was draped in camouflage, and the front yard was converted to a mess hall and a M.A.S.H. field hospital.

While the adults sipped pina coladas and ate lobster tails in the ``Officers’ Club,″ Chase and his friends were treated to chipped beef, peas and mashed potatoes, based on an Army recipe. An ROTC unit performed a drill, and Naval Sea Cadets supervised bumper boats in the pool.

Chase was later rescued from his ``kidnapping″ and got a genuine Purple Heart medal. The $6,000 bash took three months to plan.

``It just takes creativity,″ said Lanting, an investor.

It’s not the first time the Lantings gave an elaborate party.

Last year, three Atlanta Braves stopped by to meet Chase. And for 3-year-old son Parker’s birthday party in January, the Lantings had a circus theme, complete with a 70-foot tent, elephants and llamas.

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