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I struggle to understand your continuing and overwhelmingly negative coverage of the 173rd Airborne Brigade despite our continued distinguished service.

Over the last year, Stars and Stripes has published 42 articles referencing the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Despite untold successes and accomplishments, only five of those stories were positive. The almost-exclusive focus on two former 173rd officers who failed to adhere to the Army’s standards hardly reflects the integrity and successes of our remaining 3,600 paratroopers.

While I recognize that salacious scandals make for gripping headlines, tabloid-like reading and the potential for profit, your coverage over the last year is misrepresentative, unfair and disturbing to the troops who are currently serving honorably in Afghanistan, our families and the exceptional communities we call home. The best newspapers of our time are known for fair and unbiased reporting, traits that are missing in Stars and Stripes as of late.

As a U.S. Army Europe brigade on its fifth combat deployment in nine years, Sky Soldiers today continue to make significant sacrifices to support Operation Enduring Freedom in the Logar and Wardak provinces of eastern Afghanistan. Daily our paratroopers risk their lives in support of Afghan National Security Forces and the coalition partners with whom they patrol. The soldiers of the 173rd Airborne, like American servicemembers everywhere, epitomize selfless service through their professionalism, valor and service. Our paratroopers are men and women who instill the pride of our country on the battlefield and in our communities at home.

Our soldiers are proudly maintaining the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s lineage as one of the most decorated brigades in the U.S. Army despite the far-too-publicized actions of a few.

Sky Soldier families understand the daily threat faced by their paratroopers and display equal selflessness and courage in their support from home. Like many military families, they have had to endure the loss and injury of loved ones currently in Afghanistan.

As a news publication that serves American military servicemembers and Families overseas, it would be beneficial to see some positive stories during these trying times. We will do our part to enforce the standards that make our Army and nation strong. It’s time to do yours for the soldiers deployed and their families at home and give a little recognition for a job well done.

Col. Andrew Rohling


173rd Airborne Brigade

Vicenza, Italy

Paralympic athletes inspire

Thanks to the folks at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall, my family and I recently had the pleasure of being a sponsor family for one of the Paralympic athletes while they were in this area before going to London. I hate to say I never thought about the Paralympic Games until that time.

The young man we sponsored was inspiring to everyone who met him, as were all the athletes. They have taken what was given to them and done amazing things with it. It sounds corny but, where I saw their disability before, I now see their abilities. They are amazing athletes.

If you get a chance, watch the Paralympic Games. My family and I will, and will be cheering for our athlete and all of Team USA.

Shirley Barlow

RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom

Stripes in 7

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