This letter is for all of the people in the military, enlisted above the rank of E-6 and officers above the rank of O-4, who still have no combat patch on their right sleeve. My question to you is, why — and where are you hiding? Our country has been in two wars now for more than eight years, and you could have easily volunteered to come do your part. Instead, you are hiding in some Active Guard/Reserve job or in some school setting. Don’t you feel silly when you are out in public and people say, “Thanks for your service” when you haven’t actually done anything to contribute to the war on terror except talk strategy or play warfighter?

There are so many who have now done two, three and more tours (I’ve done three), and [yet] you [who haven’t] still put on that uniform every morning and actually call yourselves leaders, but don’t lead by example. Unless your boots have hit the ground in the Middle East for a tour, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I really serving my country?” And if you don’t want to sacrifice and come do your part, shouldn’t you retire?

Maj. Mark Collins


Russians win the space race

After 54 years of fierce competition in the field of space exploration, Russia has finally won.

The race began, unofficially of course, during the last days of World War II. The name of this first leg of the race was called “Who can get a German scientist first and how many can you get?”

This race ended with the advantage to the United States. However, the Soviets (Russia) were able to acquire enough scientists to stay in the race.

The next leg of the race could be called “Who can do more?” Right out of the gate it was the Soviets who took the lead. The launch of Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957, followed by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, definitely placed them well out front. This was a shock and a wake-up call to the United States.

The U.S. not only caught up, but surpassed the Soviets by landing a man on the moon.

The race became tied again with the Soyuz-Apollo link up. Then the United States again took the lead with the decision to begin the space shuttle program (officially: The Space Transportation System or STS). The program was conceived in 1969 by President Richard M. Nixon and recently was laid to rest with the last flight on July 8.

The United States is now without the capacity for manned space flight and will have to rely on the Soviets (oops, I mean Russians) at a cost of more than $60 million per astronaut. Some people may believe the Russians may not have actually won the race (as it is still possible to come from behind), but Russia has definitely put the United States firmly in its rearview mirror.

Sgt. 1st Class Vernon P. O’Neil


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