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Regarding Michael G. Cummings’ March 21 column “On 2nd deployment, I didn’t deserve combat pay”: I completely disagree. Who is this individual making these comments? Yes, he spent time in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (and reminded us of his experience with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the same unit as Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta).

Just because he was in Afghanistan and roughed it for one tour does not make soldiers residing on Victory Base Complex, Iraq, any less deserving of combat pay. Additionally U.S. forces are currently serving in an advise-and-assist role to the Iraqis. However, never forget soldiers are still dying in Baghdad just like in Afghanistan. Do not forget it.

If Cummings does not believe he deserves combat pay for his time served at VBC as well, he should take the money he earned and make a sizable contribution to Army Emergency Relief or Combined Federal Campaign. And remember:

 Soldiers do not concern themselves with the federal budget.

 If you want to save the budget, cut some contractors whose salaries dwarf soldiers’ pay.

 $225 a month per soldier is not much in the scheme of the federal budget.

 Pilots flying over Afghanistan should earn combat pay; the close air support mission remains in effect, and aircraft are vulnerable.

 We are at war in the Middle East and Islam has many dedicated followers; this justifies combat pay for Kuwait, Qatar, et al.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kalonji Singleton

Mosul, Iraq

One team, one fight, one scale

In response to Michael G. Cummings’ March 21 column “On 2nd deployment, I didn’t deserve combat pay”: First, I commend Cummings on his successful tour in the all-so-dangerous Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. For those of us not lucky enough to experience it, we are granted the opportunity to see just how bad the conditions were through the documentary “Restrepo.”

Being stationed at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, I don’t encounter the hardships faced by those at a less “luxurious” forward operating base. I have hot water to shower with every day, and I have 24/7 Internet access to talk to friends and family back home. I guess you could say that I am living the life.

I also know that any given day I could walk out of my B-Hut (living quarters) and get hit with a mortar, or I could be walking by an entry control point when a suicide bomber detonates his vest.

This war is real. To say that some deployed soldiers deserve more monetary benefits than others is ludicrous. Just because some of us don’t see the enemy face to face every day does not mean that what we do on a day-to-day basis has no meaning.

Working in a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), I see every aspect of the fight and know exactly what our brothers-in-arms go through. I also know that my actions in the TOC can affect a soldier in the Korengal Valley just as much as someone standing right next to me. Let’s be proud to be American soldiers; one team, one fight.

Pvt. Christopher Baksay

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan


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