Richard McSorley complains that military recruiters "don't tell the recruit that the purpose of the military is to kill and destroy on order" {"'Soldiers Who Won't Fight' (Cont'd.)," letter, Sept. 23}. So what? Anyone stupid enough not to know this without being told by the recruiter is too dimwitted to be accepted by the armed forces in the first place. Even in the unlikely event that a recruit got in without knowing the mission of the military, he'll certainly acquire far more than a modest awareness of it by the time he's gone part way through basic training and learned some of the various aspects of kill or be killed, which are an integral part of the training process.

The sad fact is that in peacetime a large number of people knowingly take the gamble that they can earn a living as members of the armed forces, or can earn some supplemental income as reservists, without running any real risk of having to go into combat. Every time these expectations turn out to be wrong, some of them want to escape the commitments they made when they thought they'd never have to fulfill them.

Anyone with moral scruples that preclude their going into combat -- and I have no problem with anyone having such scruples -- should have the good sense not to volunteer for military service or, if already in the armed forces, to try to get out as soon as he realizes that's how he feels. Conversely, those who discover such scruples only when ordered to where they might be shot at, and after having accepted the money they earned for committing themselves to that possibility, deserves as little sympathy as, for the most part, any of them seem to be getting.

MAX G. BERNHARDT Silver Spring

Richard McSorley, the leading peacenik at Georgetown University, is the same person who opposed our defense of South Vietnam against Communist enslavement during the '60s. He also personally attacked me as an army combat chaplain for defending America's right to be in Vietnam.

Again Father McSorley twists Christian moral principles to suit his unique position not to oppose criminal behavior by force of arms if necessary. His defense of the obligation to follow one's conscience conveniently leaves out the individual's obligation to have a rightly informed conscience. And he perverts the meaning of the military oath. It in no way forces one to do anything immoral or to obey an immoral command. Father McSorley knows better, as do we who served our country honorably and proudly.