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Letters to the Editor for Sunday, July 17, 2005

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Salute to U.S. forces

I was in the local Army Post Office and overheard some soldiers talking about how depressing it was to work there and being in Iraq. I would like to say something to all the soldiers and Marines involved in the war on terror:

Does anyone believe that these same people who are so willing to blow up themselves and their own people would hesitate to attack us again on our home turf? Stateside, everyone is comfortable going to sporting events in crowded stadiums and not many have left the heavily populated cities, all of which are prime terrorist targets. Why? Because we have taken the fight to the terrorists. Don’t lose track of that. Should we ever forget, we would open ourselves up to a repeat of Sept. 11 or worse. We must stay and fight these insurgents or those who have died or been injured in Iraq or Afghanistan will have done so in vain.

Let’s remember what our mission is and ensure that America is as safe as we can keep her. Every soldier plays a vital role.

To the soldiers carrying the mail: Keep in mind your deliveries help maintain the morale of our warriors and keep them going. You will never know if the letter you deliver to, or take from, these soldiers on the front line will be their last letter to or from home.

Each of us needs to stay focused. We are in this together.

Thanks to all of you for a job well done.

Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Babione (retired)
Al Taquddum, Iraq

‘Limited’ training in drugs

I was somewhat disturbed when I read “Prescription drug abuse study” (article, July 8, Mideast print edition; “Drug abuse study,” European print edition).

The part that caught my eye was that many doctors and pharmacists say that they have received “limited” training on dealing with “controlled” prescription drugs. Are not all prescription drugs “controlled”?

As a 16-year veteran still serving in the Army, I continually train on different weapons systems. When sized up against the average Joe, I would be considered highly skilled and trained with regard to guns. I say this not as a boast, but in reference to the nature of my profession. In the realm of absolutes, however, I suppose that my training could be classified under the term “limited.”

Are not doctors and pharmacists schooled at length in the field of pharmacology? What does this say about the two professions that we, as patients, rely on for our health and safety?

I suppose that as a well-informed patient, a standard question during an office visit or at the pharmacy counter should be: “Do you know what you’re doing?” The individuals surveyed for that article might want to reconsider their professional goals.

First Lt. Russell Lepley
Tikrit, Iraq

The only logical solution

If David P. Barash, the writer of “Intelligent design? More like faulty design” (column, July 1 print edition) had more space, he would have mentioned that since most of us have two functioning eyes, the blind spot he mentioned is eliminated. Furthermore, any changes in the design of our eyes would drastically decrease their functionality.

I do see the evidence of intelligent design in nature. Believing in evolution takes as much or more faith than believing in intelligent design. The odds that all we see has evolved through small deformations over time are astronomical.

Barash neglected to mention that the fossil record disproves the theory of evolution. “If all creatures have developed from earlier, more primitive ancestors over eons of steady evolution, why do we never seem to find a trace of that development in the fossil record?” (“Darwinism Under The Microscope,” by James P. Giles, M.D., and Tom Woodward, Ph.D.)

As Barash asks, “If God is the designer, and we are created in his image, does that mean he has back problems too?” Of course God is the Holy Spirit, and we are created in His image, spiritually and emotionally. But if God were to appear to us on Earth, I am sure he would look much like us. Oh, isn’t His name Jesus?

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeffery Cobble
Camp Liberty, Iraq

Cheerleaders OK with him

While the report of the death of any U.S. servicemember supersedes all other news, it is also important for this newspaper to help boost morale. Deployment is difficult enough, and to be bombarded with negative information all the time makes it even worse.

Stars and Stripes should not have to tuck a good Morale, Welfare and Recreation story into the inside of the paper to avoid offending a relative few. I know along with myself, many flipped from the July 6 cover story of the cheerleaders to the rest of it inside.

United Service Organizations shows have always been a cornerstone of MWR, and if the Broncos’ cheerleaders are invited to put on a show, then they, and the soldiers they are entertaining, should not be discouraged from doing so. They shouldn’t have to censor their performance, either. Those soldiers are adults in a combat zone and chose to happily participate. The complaints seem more to stem from a distrust of the spouses and jealousy of the cheerleaders.

If pictures of a male cheerleading squad were taken with female soldiers in the same poses, would we see letters from male soldiers complaining about the situation? I really doubt it.

If you happen to have any leftover photos, send them my way. I know plenty of troops who would enjoy them.

Spc. Patrick Crockett
Camp Virginia, Kuwait

Pacific edition

GIs must live up to standard

I have been astounded by some of the things Americans, particularly servicemembers, have been accused of while serving overseas, specifically in Japan and South Korea. What is wrong with our society?

These are all headlines from July 10, Stars and Stripes online: “Osan officer in charge of bar district patrols to face court-martial,” “Red Cloud GI questioned in assault,” “Three Americans accused in third robbery,” “Two Sasebo sailors arrested, accused of striking local man,” “Japanese official urges review of incidents after alleged molestation.” All of these alleged incidents took place in Japan or South Korea recently and the headlines don’t nearly do justice to the sickening details of what these people stand accused of.

Let’s not forget the young Navy dental technicians found guilty of murdering their shoplifting co-conspirator before he could “rat them out.” Nor should we forget the young Army soldier who permanently disabled an innocent fellow soldier because he “just felt like hitting someone.” “Land of the free, home of the brave”? How about land of the thug, home of Jerry Springer’s people?

With this in mind, I feel sorry for all the decent and hard-working people who actually get through each day without hurting or maiming anyone, and now have to put up with a curfew and the scorn of their neighbors.

Instead of complaining about which badge or ribbon we deserve, maybe it’s time we quit patting ourselves on the back for a minute and apply our energies to figuring out what the heck is wrong with our young people? I’ve heard it said the military is representative of our society as a whole, but I’ve never agreed with that. I always felt the people who pledged to give their life if necessary to protect the ideals of freedom and democracy were a cut above those who did not. I’m not buying any war-induced higher operations tempo excuses, either. After all, these people are accused of crimes in two of the best assignments in the world — at least they used to be.

We can and should be held to a higher standard. Locking people down on base is unfortunate and unfair to many, but probably necessary until these problems are resolved. A lockup under curfew is just a hint of things to come for the criminal minority who cause huge harm to our nation’s image, our communities, and our international relationships.

When I read today’s stories I feel deep sadness and shame. The U.S. military is overseas to ensure democracy and to promote the values our nation and society represent. If these horrible examples are any indication of what to expect from us, then it is no wonder so many would just prefer us to leave.

Master Sgt. Gary Jones (retired)
Pyeongtaek, South Korea

Okinawa has its own problems

An Air force staff sergeant is accused of molesting a 10-year-old girl (“Kadena airman accused of molesting child,” July 6, Okinawa edition). If true, this is a despicable crime and the entire community should be outraged.

The Okinawa politicians are screaming concerning this alleged crime. I believe there are two reasons for this. As mentioned above and for the following reason, no community ever wants its “problems” aired where they would need to explain why they have done nothing [to prevent them]. Child and spouse abuse very seldom gets the light of day, as police here tend not get involved in family disputes. This was recently apparent when a Japanese man killed his 18-month-old child. Though the mother had made numerous calls to agencies including the police, nothing was done.

Then there is the very active sex trade on Okinawa. There are three main red-light districts on Okinawa. There’s Shinmachi in Ginowan city, Yoshihara in Okinawa city and Sakaemachi in Naha. There are also two soap lands and the infamous pink houses in Naminoue. Though prostitution is illegal, you would never know it. It is flourishing and nothing is done about it.

Many of the women incurred debts and this is the only way they can pay them off. Many get in trouble with the “rental companies.” These are basically high-interest loan companies. I think the phrase should be loan sharks. These are also tolerated by the Okinawa government, I will never condone that type of criminal action by anyone. However, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Friends of mine just visited Okinawa two months ago. They could not believe how short the schoolgirls’ skirts were. It is almost to the point of obscene. I am sure this has caused no problems at all! I have seen some of these young ladies come into a bowling alley and they have to wrap a sweater around their waist so they do not expose themselves. The only article I saw concerning this was the one that stated Okinawa girls now wear their skirts shorter than any other prefecture in Japan. I am not sure that’s a record I would want my community winning.

The Okinawa politicians need to look at what they haven’t done before accusing the military community of inaction. The education and training that is being provided to U.S. servicemembers here far exceeds anything the local community is doing. Leaders here are doing everything they can to ensure that high moral standards are practiced and maintained. None of them want any of their men and women to be involved in any criminal or immoral actions.

A.R. Nichols
Ginowan City, Okinawa


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