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Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, July 27, 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)

Opinion was ‘eyewash’

“NPR, PBS are obsolete, however they lean” (opinion, Herb Berkowitz and Hugh Newton, July 20 print edition) was eyewash.

Berkowitz and Newton are devout neoconservatives pretending to be impartial. They would have us believe that National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System have become, horror of horrors, a mouthpiece for political propaganda. No; say it’s not true!?

It’s those sneaky liberals of course who want to control our minds and take our money. And true to form, the writers drop a few examples to support this clever deception.

But fear not, good people; Fox News Channel’s talking heads would eviscerate the culprits. Phew; well thank God for that. Dream on, sweet prince, and well done Fox News, you good and faithful servant.

Mark Warren
Darmstadt, Germany

Showertime characters

I have witnessed some unusual and sometimes disturbing behavior in the communal shower trailers at Camp Victory, Iraq. It seems some people don’t understand what is considered reasonable behavior in a shared hygiene facility. In order to help others, a list has been compiled of the top 10 offenses to shower etiquette seen in a shower trailer at Dodge City North.

Types of individuals you’ll see:

1) “Dirty Man”: Takes a shower with his dirty shower shoes and leaves dirt and gravel in the shower. He also uses the shower stalls to wash his filthy rugs and tactical gear (TA-50).

2) “Superman”: Jumps out of the shower without drying off and soaks all the clothes on the bench.

3) “Nude Man”: Walks nude from the shower, 10 feet to the sink, and brushes his teeth in the nude. (Note: These sinks have less than 2 inches between them).

4) “Sneezy”: Sneezes and unclogs his nose all over the sink, shower, etc., aka “Honker”

5) “May I borrow”: Uses your shampoo/soap without asking.

6) “Skivvies Man”: Washes his underwear, etc., in the sink.

7) “Conversation Man”: When there are multiple parties in the shower, and one of them is nude, no conversing should take place!

8) “Tequila sunrise man”: When you are done with your shower, there is no lying around in the nude on the bench. Just leave.

9) “Invisible Man”: Puts his soap and shampoo in the shower to reserve it while he is shaving and brushing his teeth (while others are waiting for a shower).

10) “Curtain Malfunction Man”: Doesn’t know how to tuck the shower curtain inside the shower so that the floor doesn’t get soaked.

If you are guilty of any of these violations, please knock it off. When you get home you can revert to whatever strange rituals you normally carry out during your personal hygiene time.

Lt. Cmdr. Gerry Fernandez
Camp Victory, Iraq

Bring in Wal-Mart or Sears

Army and Air Force Exchange Service goes where we go! Its prices are too high; the service is crummy.

It’s a monopoly, which is not good for the free enterprise system. I believe that anyone can retail; bring in Wal-Mart, Sears, etc., and give them the tax breaks and free labor AAFES enjoys and see what happens to the prices and service.

Also, let the local nationals on base sell their goods and services to the GIs without AAFES getting its cut.

Sgt. 1st Class Landis R. Lucas
Camp Stryker, Iraq

Come on down to Anaconda

Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq, is huge compared to many of the other bases around Iraq “Anaconda no ‘combat zone,’" letter, July 20).

It was an Iraqi air force base before it became a U.S. base. It is so big that it has more troops than I care to think about. It has so many people that it makes sense that stuff would just be a little bigger and a little more money put into it. Anaconda is not closing anytime soon, which means more money and that means things are going to be a little better.

In the last two weeks I attended the memorial service for two of our soldiers. They were killed just down the road from Anaconda and I can tell you that it was not sunstroke that took their lives. This is in addition to the numerous combat injuries that have hit our brigade since we arrived. If the letter writer thinks Anaconda is some beach resort, then he needs to stop drinking the sunscreen.

As far as the rare mortar attacks, ask the Air Force personnel and the soldiers who were hurt and killed in one of those attacks how they feel.

If the letter writer still thinks this place is nothing more than an rest and recuperation stopover, then come on down and play with any of the soldiers from 100/442 Infantry; 229 Military Intelligence Company; F Troop, 82 Cavalry; 29th Brigade Combat Team military police; 227 Engineers and the rest of the 29th BCT. I am sure that we will be able to convince him we are in Iraq.

Oh, and by the way, your nice, safe break is like that because it is kept that way, and not by default.

Spc. Alexander T. Eteuati
Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

AFN’s ‘screen door’ reception

Ditto to recent letters regarding the poor over the air reception quality of American Forces Network (“AFN picture is step backward,” letter, June 26).

The reception has gone from mostly good, to sometimes OK, to almost unwatchable. At best it’s been described as “watching TV through a screen door.” Now it’s like the screen door is extremely dirty.

I gather there was a recent antenna switch that is responsible for the latest loss of quality.

Sure would be nice for AFN to mention something about this instead of having to use the letters page as a forum.

I have the distinct feeling that over- the-air (antenna) signal is heading toward extinction and soon everyone will be forced to either rent or purchase the satellite system.

Greg Potter
Hanau, Germany

Retirement benefits are key

I agree that the reserve and National Guard retirement systems should be amended (“Consider retirement proposal,” letter, July 11).

The big bonuses are great retention tools, but most servicemembers with 10-plus years are looking for retirement benefits.

As a federal correctional officer in the civilian world, I am eligible to receive my retirement benefits after my 50th birthday and 20 years of service. It is mandatory that I retire by the age of 57. The majority of employees at my institution are veterans, yet only three out of 315 are in the National Guard or reserves. I believe that so few prior servicemembers stay in the National Guard and reserves is that the benefits are better in the civilian world, especially with the federal government.

It has been proposed in the past to create a retirement system that is comparable to the federal law enforcement’s retirement system for the reserve components. Lowering the age of eligibility requirements for receiving benefits would be a great retention tool for everyone except those over the age of 50. Even those 50 or older could stay in for more retirement points. Plus, it’s only fair to reward everyone who serves and sacrifices. This proposal has many supporters in Congress, along with service organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Craig Tutton
Taqaddum, Iraq

Pacific edition

Troops should read article

Most of the time when I read anything in the letters to the editor section, the comments are usually negative and are criticizing articles in Stars and Stripes.

Instead, I would like to say something positive and put the cherry on top of the highly informational “For some troops, the battle’s back home” (Los Angeles Times article, July 19 Stripes print edition).

At last someone has read my mind and put the information out there to young servicemembers with statistics that do not lie.

I am not against marriage; I am against young people making bad decisions. I am in the Air Force, but I have been doing Army support for the last six years, so I have witnessed this firsthand on both sides.

As the article states, servicemembers tend to enlist young and marry young. The short relationship and short notice of troops headed to support contingencies overseas are the catalysts for rash decisions that should have been thought out first.

Young servicemembers should not ignore the statistics in that article. Whatever your time in the military is, just remember that life does not end in Killeen, Fayetteville, Clarksville or whatever military town you may be stationed. You will meet other people and have unique experiences, so give serious thought about what you do prior to a deployment.

It comes down to senior leadership and peers looking out for one another. From situations similar to what the article said the soldier in Iraq experienced [he asked a woman he had known only a few weeks to handle his financial affairs while he was downrange, and she nearly cleaned out his bank account], to fellow soldiers taking advantage of lonely wives left behind, if you read that article, then please pass on some smart advice to one another.

Tech. Sgt. Chuck Rushing
Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

Article had no value

“For some troops, the battle’s back home” (Los Angeles Times article, July 19 Stripes print edition) pointed out how “some” military spouses cheat on their deployed husbands or wives. The reporter also felt it was necessary to print the cadence in which several references are to “Jody,” the name that is used for anyone fooling around with a deployed servicemember’s spouse.

I’m just wondering what Stars and Stripes was trying to prove with that article. Surely you know that anybody who has been in the military longer than a day knows how the stories go and is well aware of the cadences. I, for one, did not see the value in it and was pretty heated that Stripes would print an article like that.

Do you think the servicemembers who are deployed enjoyed reading that article? ’Cause I can tell you that they didn’t, at least not the soldiers I’ve talked to.

If you want to talk about the increase in divorces since the start of this war, that is fine, but to add stories of men calling home to hear another man telling his wife that he loves her is a bit too much. The story puts doubts in even the strongest of marriages. I’m sure the soldier who called home thought his marriage was a stable marriage and that she was being faithful to him.

Well, I have news for you, Stars and Stripes, the majority of us out here who are married think the same thing. But when you print “crap” like that, it could put doubt in the minds of soldiers who may be having a difficult time being away from their spouse to begin with.

I, for one, would rather focus on the mission than whether my wife is playing me for a fool.

Sgt. Lee A. Dumas
Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq


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