I’m a Canadian officer serving at NATO HQ in Brussels and I read Stars and Stripes nearly every day. I just wanted to congratulate the paper and especially reporter Martin Kuz on the excellent article on the front page of the Feb. 18 edition (“Death Detachment: Transporting the fallen, fighting to keep emotions in check”).

Kuz has covered with utter compassion yet clarity of description what is all our nation’s utmost duty to our fallen. I hung on every word, and now have the highest admiration for the men and women charged with the sacred and very human duty of repatriation of remains.

Lt. Col. John McNair


War must end, not wind down

I am Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge’s Gold Star mother. He was killed on Oct. 13, 2010, while serving in the Marines in Afghanistan.

Stars and Stripes’ Feb. 14 front page included the article “Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners: ‘Dangerous insurgents’ freed Thursday despite international objections.” I was under the impression that the reason for having U.S. troops in Afghanistan is to capture and eliminate the Taliban, thus decreasing violence and demoralization acts against others, and eliminating the security threat to the American people.

If we know we’re leaving, it makes each additional death especially sad and cruel. How do you ask one of our troops to be the last one to die because of an arbitrary and pointlessly chosen withdrawal date? Why are we still there?

Arab and Muslim societies need to start shaming suicide bombers and naming the bombers’ actions “murder,” not martyrdom. Congress has convinced the nation to ignore our presence in Afghanistan. How many young men and women will our government be responsible for killing before those in power finally say enough?

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul called the prisoner release “deeply regrettable” and said the Afghan government bears responsibility for the results of its decision. How dare our government support this decision by remaining in Afghanistan. I believe the greatest casualty is to be forgotten!

Please don’t allow the death of my child to be “deeply regrettable.” We need to end the policy of “hands off the poppy fields” that are funding the Taliban and al-Qaida. Our troops need to be given the support, tools and rules of engagement to end this war or our government needs to remove all American servicemembers from Afghanistan immediately.

Julie Vinnedge

St. Charles, Mo.

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