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Letters to the editor for Tuesday, January 13, 2004

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)

Coffee and doughnuts

I’m a soldier in the 439th Petroleum Company out of New Haven, Conn. I’m always reading stories in Stars and Stripes about unit morale, so I thought it would be a good idea to share our story and give everyone a good laugh.

We have been at Camp Cedar, Iraq, since May. We’re assigned to the 171 Area Support Group/394th Quartermaster Battalion. We set up two fuel sites on Main Supply Route Tampa, one just before Camp Cedar and another in CSC Scania, which is about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Our third site is at Talil air base, where a portion of our company is refueling helicopters.

Over the past several months our whole company has been split up all over Iraq performing these various missions, and all of our soldiers are doing an extraordinary job. Since May we’ve pumped more than 8 million gallons of fuel and counting. Our other jobs include guarding third-country nationals working at Camp Cedar, unloading water and food, moving portable toilets, helping units that are redeploying home from Camp Cedar with our forklifts, force protection for Camp Cedar, force protection for our own fuel sites on Tampa, and now movement control.

So readers can imagine that our hands are pretty full. Well, now our hands are full of doughnuts. The 171 ASG thought it would be a good use of manpower to have our soldiers hand out coffee and doughnuts on Tampa for deploying units. It’s a waste of manpower, which we are very short of. And think of our morale! Tell that to soldiers who’ve been on active-duty since February, survived 140-degree summer temperatures on a ration of two bottles of water a day, ate T-rations and Meals, Ready to Eat for five months, and have no clue when they’ll redeploy, and see their reaction. No one gave our soldiers doughnuts when we got here.

So seeing that the 439th has been extended to July, we figure we can issue as many doughnuts and gallons of coffee as we do fuel. It would be nice if the 439th was recognized for all it’s done for Operation Iraqi Freedom, including filling both fuel tanks, one with fuel and the other with coffee and doughnuts!

Sgt. Dale W. DeWitt Jr.
Camp Cedar, Iraq

Right to question

I’d like to comment on the letter “‘Doonesbury’ is drivel” (Jan. 7). The writer claimed that the comic strip is “anti-American,” even though the entire strip is based on the daily happenings of our country and its institutions. Recent “Doonesbury” topics ranged from the California political crisis to U.S. foreign policy, forcing readers to form opinions about those events through its sharp wit and thought-provoking depictions.

“Doonesbury” isn’t alone. Every time I open Stars and Stripes’ opinion section, I’m greeted with political cartoons from stateside newspapers. Being able to question politicians and their policies is a right Americans are guaranteed through the Constitution. It can’t be taken away, regardless of whose toes a cartoonist steps on.

I’m sorry if opinions other than the regurgitated, question-no-policy, right-wing approach are too much for the writer. Getting upset about “Doonesbury” because of its political affiliation is like me asking Stars and Stripes not to print “Dilbert” because it makes me miss my civilian office job.

Spc. Jonathan Creed
Baghdad

Enola Gay

This is in regard to the Courtland Milloy column “Seeing Enola Gay (again) in a truly terrifying light” (Dec. 19) about the plane that dropped one of the two atomic bombs on Japan during World War II. Four visitors from Japan who attended the opening of the National Air and Space Museum annex in Chantilly, Va., where the Enola Gay is displayed, gave excellent descriptions of the destruction caused by the bombs. But they failed to give the reasons the bombs were dropped.

1. Remember Pearl Harbor?

2. Remember the Bataan Death March?

3. Remember the Japanese ships that carried American prisoners?

I could provide many more reasons why the United States used the atomic bombs, but I think the following two reasons are enough.

1. To save American lives.

2. To end the war.

I enlisted in the U.S. military on Aug. 1, 1938, and was already a trained soldier in Hawaii when the war started. I spent the next three years “island hopping” in the Pacific Theater, and was back in Hawaii when the Enola Gay passed through on its way to Japan.

In the column, atomic bomb attack survivor Minoru Nishino said that when he dies, he’ll tell those who died in the attacks that he saw the Enola Gay. When I die, I’ll tell them why the bombs were dropped.

Capt. John W. Johnson (Ret.)
Walldurn-Glashofen, Germany

Pacific edition

No letters were published in the Pacific edition today.


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