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Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, August 9, 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)

Where does money go?

In one of the previous papers I read where someone had asked about where all the money goes from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service using pogs and never giving the correct change when we pay in cash.

The writer really hit a point when saying there are a lot of people shopping at AAFES, paying cash and not receiving the extra few cents they should get back. Just think of how many soldiers do this daily, not to mention that the pogs they receive will more than likely not be spent by that person.

I wanted to let that writer know that he or she is not the only one thinking this way, as many people here are also.

So where do we get an answer?

Spc. Brian Newsome
Iraq

‘A crock of nonsense’

Regarding “Freedom means having choice” (letter, July 28), I can only say to the letter writer, you need to read what you write.

Having the freedom to choose is exactly that. I have the right, as an American citizen, to choose whether I want to believe in God, Allah or any other deity or not to believe in anything. But having that choice does not necessarily have to brand me as a liberal or a conservative. It just means I have the right to choose.

Why is it, in the current political environment, that if you choose not to believe, or at least not to believe as the writer does, that one is a liberal and it seems to naturally follow that if you are a liberal, you must hate America? Sorry, but that is a crock of nonsense.

I happen to be a proud American, having served in Vietnam and then did an additional 32 years of U.S. government service, but I am a liberal and very much so. I am absolutely appalled by what is happening in America these days — the loss of liberty to security, the perceived right of the president to lock up anyone who is deemed an “enemy combatant,” the failure of this administration to respect the Geneva Conventions and a whole host of other violations of civilized behavior.

To me, and I know to many others, it is absolutely shocking that the United States has stooped so low and dishonors those who came before us and who fought and died so that American citizens would have the freedoms that are being taken away from us.

As Ben Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Think about it.

Ken Yeager
Grosshansdorf, Germany

Services need each other

Why can’t we all just get along? Because from Day One both soldiers and the Marines are engineered to believe their service is better than the other.

The Army needs the Marines and the Marines need the Army. The Army is there for sustained missions — to be able to hold a place for an extended amount of time. The Marines are a land and sea assault force. We are not meant to sustain missions for a long period of time.

In regard to “Look at Marines first” (letter, July 31) — “The Army has been setting the standard for the other branches since 1775. How long has the Marine Corps been around?” The Army is only one year older than the Marine Corps. Before that, every branch was considered one entity and was encompassed in the same force, which was called “the United States Army.”

In regard to “Don’t downplay Army’s role” (letter, July 31), the Army did request that Marines be redeployed to Iraq. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told House members that “the Army needed additional troops to maintain the heavy commitment in Iraq” and “the Marine Corps will have to send forces back to Iraq to relieve pressure on the Army.” The order did come down from the Joint Chiefs of Staff but at the request of Army officials. Whether we “lost control” of Fallujah is debatable, because we had a hold on it until we were ordered to quit mortars and assaults until we could reduce the [threat to] civilians in the area.

The job is getting done. It doesn’t matter who is getting it done, or who is helping whom, because none of this would be possible if we hadn’t helped out each other.

Cpl. Duane L. Cottrill
Camp Victory, Iraq

Good order and discipline key

To the writer of “Peeved over pet peeves” (letter, Aug. 1), you are an officer and a leader. You are suppose to be who the soldiers follow and emulate.

You don’t wear sunglasses on your head because Army Regulation 670-1 (“Wear And Appearance Of Army Uniforms And Insignia”), Paragraph 1-14 states you don’t wear sunglasses indoors. We don’t wear backpacks in the dining facilities because people leave them there and based on the terrorist/insurgent actions that blew up a dining facility in Mosul, Iraq. It is not worth the risk to other soldiers, civilians and third country nationals. Just like you not wearing a shirt to the shower. It is inappropriate, and we do have females at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, too.

So, if this good order and discipline is offending you, then you need to get out of our Army because you are the problem that the lower enlisted see, which brings down their morale and good order. Good order and discipline is what the Army is based on.

I have seen too many leaders, senior noncommissioned officers and officers do what they heck they want and expect soldiers to follow them. One example: the officer I caught at the post exchange on Anaconda in physical training uniform wearing sandals. When the going gets tough, would you really follow him?

“The new Army” — no wonder we can’t wear our booney caps. Leaders like you here would not enforce the proper wear of it. You would be part of the problem.

Good order and discipline.

Master Sgt. Craig E. Williams
Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

List biological parents

“In Mass., Parent A and Parent B, and baby makes C?” (column, Kathleen Parker, Aug. 2 print edition) raises a significant issue in birth certificates and determinations of parents.

Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is right to refuse the creation of new birth certificates that list a “first” and “second” parent. In reality, birth certificates should list the biological mother and father, regardless of who will serve as the child’s legal parents. Adoptive parents should be listed on a completely different legal form altogether.

This will benefit all children, whether their legal parents are their biological parents, or they are adopted by heterosexual or homosexual couples or a single parent.

I was adopted three weeks after I was born. Shortly after I entered the Army, I decided to find my biological parent to “find out where I came from” and also for medical histories. I was lucky: my biological mother had left contact information with the adoption agency and left an open file.

My sister — also adopted — is not so lucky. As such, there are parts of her medical history that she will not be able to ascertain without a lengthy court process.

States would do all children a favor if biological parents, and their medical histories, were available to their biological offspring.

Brian Luti
Baumholder, Germany

Pacific edition

Peeves’ letter peeved him

It’s always interesting to read the letters complaining about discipline in the Army and when and where soldiers want to abide by the regulations they volunteered to follow (“Peeved over pet peeves,” letter, Aug. 5).

Officers in particular seem to feel that, due to military occupational specialty or status, they are above the law. For an aviator to make the statement: “If I cannot wear my sunglasses in the chow hall, I am going home” is somewhat embarrassing for the rest of the pilots in theater. I am curious what regulation that falls under. It’s definitely one with which I am not familiar.

The regulations imposed on soldiers are to uphold the good of the soldiers for the majority for the soldiers. If you can’t follow the simple rules that officers above you have imposed pertaining to sunglasses and Camelbaks, perhaps the aviation community should conduct a flight evaluation board on your ability to follow the rules with a $20 million helicopter. I distinctly remember a video of a chief warrant officer asking a lieutenant: “Do you think we can make it between those trees?” and after the comment “Nope” was clear on the internal communications system, they proceeded to almost wreck the aircraft, and then were afforded the opportunity to work for McDonald’s.

Play by the rules or beat it. You’re an officer and should set the example and stop whining. Stop giving the specialist at the chow hall door a hard time. If memory serves correctly, you took the obligation freely, and probably don’t complain on the 1st and 15th.

Maj. Dana Smith
Kuwait

Another peeved soldier

Sir, you are not a problem, but your opinion does not bring a great deal of credit to the officer corps (“Peeved over pet peeves,” letter, Aug. 5).

I do not appreciate you calling me the problem. I am a noncommissioned officer in the Army. I make on-the-spot corrections. Walk past me in uniform wearing your sunglasses on your head like you are in a mall back home and I will discreetly pull you aside and ask you to remove the sunglasses. No flip-flops to the latrine, no backpack allowed in the dining facility? How on earth can you even ask why?

Obviously the letter writer has forgotten that all of us are soldiers first. Soldiers follow orders. The Army needs soldiers with his skills. The Army does not need soldiers with his attitude. An officer expressing such an opinion? I am embarrassed. I usually don’t have to make an on-the-spot correction of an officer, but I will.

This letter has done nothing more than harden my resolve to continue to be a soldier. I will continue to make on-the-spot corrections. Why? I follow orders, I understand the importance of standards, and I understand Army Regulation 670-1 (“Wear And Appearance Of Army Uniforms And Insignia”). For any number of reasons restrictions are placed upon us. I have trust in my chain of command. If you don’t like a policy, what are you doing to change it? Notifying your immediate supervisor is how it usually works.

Those with the letter writer’s attitude are outnumbered, outclassed and outsoldiered on a daily basis by the vast majority of the rest of us in uniform.

Sgt. Glenn Cuneo
Camp Navistar, Kuwait

‘Peeved’ doesn’t get it

C’mon Chief, you know that thinking outside the box isn’t allowed here (“Peeved over pet peeves,” letter, Aug. 5).

Rules must be followed because they are rules. Slavish adherence to uniform rules are the norm in garrison, and aren’t we just in a hot, sandy, dangerous garrison, after all? I mean, just because someone might try to kill you, whether by mortar, improvised explosive device or direct fire, that doesn’t mean you can wear your civilian physical training clothes to the gym, because your safety might be compromised. And that proud flag on the pods might be the little thing that the bad guys see to identify that it is an American helicopter and not a terrorist helicopter. They do have those, right?

Sunglasses? I can’t believe you’d be more worried about your eyes in the sunny desert than about how much you look like a soldier. Camelbaks? Water is a crutch.

Where I disagree with the soldiers in the rear with the idle hands and their pet peeves is that common sense should apply to all things, even discipline. The discipline that is shown by a warrior when he maximizes his time ensuring that all of his equipment is serviceable and prepared for his combat mission is the type of discipline we should all hope for when that warrior comes to the fight. If the warrior spends his time worrying about the pet peeves discussed above, it takes time and effort away from his primary mission.

Commanders and leaders (not always the same thing) at all levels should evaluate whether common sense and wartime realities are being applied when evaluating and enforcing standards. The real problem is that the common sense is being driven out of the services with soldiers like you and me when we leave and take our comrades with us.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Lambrecht
Camp Victory, Iraq

No mercy for terrorist foes

More terrorist bombings. When will it end? Why not withdraw from Iraq?

Simple: It will end when we eliminate these fanatics and the scum that supports them. If we leave Iraq, it will only get worse. Think about it. How happy would the Syrian government be if all coalition troops went home? It would be ecstatic. Syria is a premier leader and supporter of terrorists and never wants to see democracy close to home. Support the men and women who are fighting the war on terrorism.

Then there is the punishment. Since the fanatics believe when they die they are going to heaven with virgins, then we need to change that for the ones who get caught. If they are condemned to death, then they should be shot with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Then they will not go to heaven. This process was used to quell terrorist Muslims in the Philippines a long time ago and it worked.

I do not care what the American Civil Liberties Union says, what the liberals and their lawyers think, or what human-rights groups want. I am an American and will defend our freedom against this scum any way I can. If you believe these terrorists have rights after what they have done to us and others, you are living in the wrong country and need to move to France. To quote a very popular phrase used by Marines: Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.

Master Gunnery Sgt. A.R. Nichols (retired)
Camp Kinser, Okinawa

Paul Harvey on the Web

For all who want to hear Paul Harvey and do not receive the American Forces Network signal, just make a trip to the Web and visit www.paulharvey.com. There you can hear the five-minute morning broadcast and also the 15-minute noon broadcast just a few minutes after it’s broadcast live in the States. So you have it earlier than AFN. But of course you can hear it also when you want to hear it. Very good service from Paul Harvey and ABC Radio.

For me, this is the only source to hear that program since AFN left Berlin in 1994. And as I understand AFN/American Forces Radio and Television Service is the only media (radio) that air Paul Harvey outside the United States. So, perhaps this letter brings a few more listeners for Paul Harvey via the Internet.

Chris Muermann
Berlin


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