GIs honored to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year
December 23, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. soldiers in Iraq voiced pride and satisfaction on the news that Time magazine has named “the American soldier” its 2003 Person of the Year.
Time’s latest issue features a cover photo of three 1st Armored Division soldiers in Iraq, and wrote: “They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME’s Person of the Year.”
“Scholars,” wrote Time, “can debate whether the Bush Doctrine is the most muscular expression of national interest in a half-century; the generals may ponder whether warmaking or peacekeeping is the more fearsome assignment. ...” But of U.S. servicemembers themselves, said Time, “They are the bright, sharp instrument of a blunt policy, and success or failure in a war unlike any in history ultimately rests with them.”
“I think it’s a privilege to be on Time magazine,” said Pfc. D’Adran Bryant, 20, of San Diego, Calif., a sergeant major’s driver with the 1st AD’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, in Baghdad.
“Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes we lose focus,” he said. “But a motivator like that, it gives you motivation to keep driving on.”
“I think it’s good ’cause we’re not world leaders, we’re not statesmen or anything,” said Spc. James Rachel, 20, of Russellville, Ark., an Abrams tank loader with the 1st AD’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment.
“Politics don’t really mean anything to us,” said Rachel. “This is our job.”
“It pays a lot of tribute to the people of America to join up in defense of their country,” said Pfc. William Brewer, 20, a mortarman, also with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment.
“In a way it’s very important what you’re doing now,” Brewer said of U.S. troops in Iraq. “Twenty years from now I’m gonna maybe be working in a factory or something, something that really isn’t that important, and I’m gonna be thinking and missing the fact that I was doing something very important.”
“I think we’ve done everything we’ve been asked to do,” said Capt. Benjamin Craven, 26, of Bethlehem, Pa., personnel officer with 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment.
“And I don’t think it’s anything that soldiers haven’t done in the past. ... They did it in World War II, in Korea, in Vietnam. ... We’re doing it in Iraq and we’ll continue to do it in the future.”
The news was likewise welcomed by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Company D, 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
“I agree with that as kind of, who’s been the one actually following through with what the leadership has said we’re going to do?” said Staff Sgt. Derryl Haidek, 31, of Glendale, Ariz., a section leader in the company’s anti-armor platoon. “It is the American soldier who made a lot of it happen.
“A lot of them are down to earth, they’re not big-headed, they’re not out for glory, they’re not out to be the one that everybody recognizes,” said Haidek.
“It’s an honor for the Army, I guess,” said Cpl. Cory Christiansen, 23, of Denison, Iowa, a Humvee commander. “A lot of people earned it. A lot of people gave up their lives ... for the freedom of the country. It’s just good to be remembered.”