August 25

No salary cap on service ...

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

August 25 No salary cap on service ... ... and players should know it Thanks for the securityAugust 26 Uniform violations Al-Qaeda training videosAugust 27 Five-year rule NoiseAugust 28 Gas prices Starving children Baseball labor talks Pledge of AllegianceAugust 29 Baseball situation Depleted uranium munitions Fort Bragg killingsAugust 30 Five-year rule 'Gas prices' response St. Petersburg vacation

August 31 Parenting AFN programming

Well they’ve done it.

After all the talk the Major League Baseball players have set a date to strike, and leave the fans — the ones who ultimately pay the salaries — confused about the greed that could drive all of this.

Many of those fans are in the U.S. military, protecting our freedoms — even the freedom of greed.

This time it is reported that the players: want a raise in minimum salaries; have an objection to mandatory drug testing; and do not want a luxury tax on excessively high salaries.

Players, whose average salary is $2.38 million, want to increase the minimum salary by between $100,000 and $300,000 for doing exactly what they want. These players report for “duty” in the spring and are finished by September or October to return to their families full time for five to six months. On the other hand the people who preserve this privilege earn an average annual salary of about $20,000, are separated from their families three to six months or longer serving in harm’s way, and when they return home they still go to work every day.

The players object to mandatory random testing for illegal drugs and muscle-enhancing drugs. Whether they want the job or not, they are role models for today’s youth (albeit not always the best role models). We, as a nation, educate our youth to “just say no” to drugs. Why wouldn’t the players all want to step up to the plate (no pun intended) and volunteer to drug testing to be that great role model? By the way, members of the armed forces have been subjected to mandatory testing for decades. The repercussions of drug use for a servicemember usually include discharge from the service — which could affect him or her the rest of his or her life — and possible criminal prosecution — and the servicemember didn’t make millions to fall back on.

The players also object to a luxury tax that, in effect, puts a salary cap on a team. Perhaps in the long run (when offered $80 million contracts) this keeps a shameless player from saying: “I think there is better money out there.” Regardless, once again, many of the fans, including those in the military who put their lives on the line for all our freedoms, are eligible for government transfer programs such as food stamps.

I see on American Forces Network advertisements from players saying how proud they are of our troops and how they stand behind America’s military as it defends our freedoms. Then the news comes on and the reporters are stating players’ demands for more. Do they have no shame?


Jim MurphyMisawa Air Base, Japan

... and the players should know it


I’m quite amazed and quite sick of the attitudes of some of our professional athletes back home. For the most part I’ve been deeply touched by the way Americans have pulled together since the Sept. 11 atrocities. For a small while, the big picture came back into focus for our wonderful country — that life in itself is a very precious thing to have or lose. But it seems that, as usual, the focus is slowly shifting back to the almighty dollar.

All over the world, everyday men and women who want only to be a part of something better than they are stand up for the principles of freedom and democracy. These men and women suffer great hardships, whether standing in the heat and cold for hours on end or being separated from their families and friends while literally putting their lives on the line. Do these men and women receive the pay that they deserve? No! And all the while I hear from home that another strike by Major League Baseball players is in the air, or that another athlete just signed a multimillion-dollar deal.

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge these very talented people their chosen professions. But I can’t help wondering what is happening to our country when the men and women who entertain us are more valuable than the men and women who protect us and provide us the freedom to enjoy that entertainment.

Sgt. Randolph J. King Jr.Mannheim, Germany

Thanks for the security

An open letter from a civilian to U.S. military personnel:

I wanted to say thank you for the job you are doing. It is not a misty-eyed thank you wrapped up in the flag. It is a thank you that comes from knowing that each day you get up, fulfill your duties, do your job, and protect me and everyone I know — and that you do it for very modest pay, often separated from family and friends, and with sporadic appreciation from the citizens you defend. A lonesome job for sure, but it’s one that seems often to attract, or call forth, the very best in America’s men and women. This is as true today as it has ever been.

I am reminded of my gratitude to you each day I walk out and look west from a hill outside my door. Around this time last year, I watched from that hill from 15 miles away as the Twin Towers blazed and smoked across the sky.

Soon, I looked from that hill and they had vanished, along with many friends.

My thanks to you comes from the knowledge that there are a thousand evils that I will never see and will never happen because you wear that uniform and do your job. My thanks comes because our enemies have more to fear than I do. My thanks comes because much of what you do and what you sacrifice is known but to you and God. Thank you.

I pray daily for your safety and success.

Scott SalvatoFlushing, N.Y.

August 26

Uniform violations

This is in regard to the story “A mean-spirited kind of guy? Naw . . . He just fights chaos” (Aug. 4). Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Beam doesn’t strike me as a “mean-spirited kind of guy.” He’s only a perfectionist who is merely fed up with the many discrepancies that could’ve been easily corrected if the guilty parties simply took an extra few seconds to observe and correct.

The number of uniform violations I’ve seen never ceases to amuse me. We are not talking about infractions of grooming regulations. Haircuts cost money and sometimes, due to unforeseen situations, an enlisted member just happens to be short on cash or he just hasn’t been able to make it to a barber due to operational commitments. And we are not talking about torn uniforms, because a perfect uniform can rip if an unfortunate servicemember’s uniform catches onto something.

One of the most common infractions is the correct wearing of one’s decorations. One would expect this to be a problem with junior personnel. But if one takes the time to learn the proper order of ribbons, he will find discrepancies on high-ranking officers as well as on high-ranking enlisted members.

Twenty-one years ago, my brother, who was then a Navy seaman working at the post office, got a visit by the command master chief. Not wanting to appear disrespectful, my brother told the command master chief that he thought that ribbon on the command master chief’s lower right was supposed to be on the upper left. The command master chief smiled and asked my brother if he noticed any other discrepancies. The command master chief then confessed that he deliberately wore his ribbons upside down to see if anybody would notice. And after the command master chief toured the base and visited numerous work centers, my brother was the first one to spot the error.

If a servicemember is fortunate enough to enjoy the prestige of wearing ribbons on his uniform, a servicemember should at least know how to wear those ribbons. If a servicemember is being paid extra money because of his leadership position — i.e., the servicemember is a senior enlisted member, an officer or a warrant officer — there is no reason why the servicemember shouldn’t know the correct order of ribbons. This is important, especially in countries whose armed forces are too cheap to award decorations.

There is a joke among British military members that American servicemembers get a decoration simply by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It’s bad enough that some branches of our armed forces give out “geedunk ribbons,” like the ribbon for completing recruit training (boot camp).

Let’s not give the local nationals more cannon fodder by failing to know the correct order of our decorations. We are, after all, a superpower. So many of the local nationals in our host nations might know a little something about our armed forces.

Mike McKennaMisterbianco, Sicily

Al-Qaeda training videos

So al-Qaeda’s been training personnel to build improvised conventional weapons and has been doing research on chemical weapons, and somehow this is supposed to be news. I’m not sure if this is news as video confirmation of what every American has already concluded to be fact, or news for quantifying American vulnerabilities in the small towns back home. Either way, there seems to be nothing new in this, other than the clips CNN shows hourly.

I don’t want to rain on CNN’s parade, but we in America and England already have comparable training tapes. Perhaps worse still, they are broadcast for all to see. My son, nearly 4 years old, can explain in great detail the steps used to make a cannon (and how to make it self-propelled), options for building torpedoes, and how to destroy a building. How? He loves “Junkyard Wars” and “Scrapheap Challenge.”

But the difference is that my son is not evil at heart, and instead of wanting to learn how to kill all infidels, he would like the Discovery Channel to do an episode on building rally cars so that he can compete in the Rallye Deutschland this weekend.

Art La FlammeWiesbaden, Germany

August 27

Five-year rule

This is in reference to the article “Five-year rule fight fizzles out” (Aug. 20).

The way the story was reported, including the headline, was very insensitive to the people who have spent time and money bringing to light an issue that effects people’s lives during a period when their careers are almost over.

The story’s version of this issue is far from reality. How does force-feeding an employee on a manager into an organization foster career development? Why not move the employee to another command within the theater he’s in? If people are moved to accommodate changing missions, then why are people in the States not forced to move after five years on station in the States?

We have relocated kitchen police (GS-5s) who make $23,000 a year to the States. They have an entitlement of 18,000 pounds of household goods to be shipped, one car, air travel, hotel expenses and readjustment pay. The estimated cost for a single person is $25,000. What is the added value? What is the difference between washing dishes in Europe versus in the States? Where is the career enhancement and mission change?

The five-year rule is a crutch for commanders, managers and supervisors to use to avoid doing their jobs. If an employee is a problem or not working to standards, the solution is to “check with the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and see how long the employee has been here.” If the employee has been here for more than five years, that’s the answer to the situation. Ironically, the people who send others back are the ones who have been in Europe for more than five years.

Those who have purchased houses with their living-quarters allowances or have been here more than five years will do anything and everything for their bosses to stay here. This fosters corruption and unethical practices (Enron, Worldcom., EUCOM). The good old boy network is alive and well, especially among the major command’s senior positions that are held by former officers. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s fair and open competition is a farce.

The largest contingency of U.S. forces and Department of Defense employees are in Europe. But all senior civilian positions are held by whites (GS 14s, 15s and Senior Executive Service). Ninety-eight percent of all executive officers in this theater are white. Ninety-nine percent of all directors are white. Any position of responsibility in senior or midlevel management is held by a white. This has been the trend because of the “tag team system.” My buddy hires me, I replace him when he goes to the States, and when he wants to come back, I hire him and I go.

The majority of people in headquarters are former military buddies who have been here for more than 20 years and have not returned to the States since their discharges. They are all white. The five-year rule is another form of ethnic cleansing, and it is becoming more evident as U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army become whiter as the five-year rule is enforced. It would be interesting if Stars and Stripes did an investigative story on how minorities have “fostered” their careers because of this policy.

Why is every position of responsibility previously held by minorities filled by Southern white males, and every position held by a white male is replaced with a white Southern male? I find it very odd if, all things being equal, how one can reach into a jar of M&M’s and consistently pull out a white M&M every time.

To add insult to injury concerning positions for spouses, there is a U.S. Army Europe memo directing that all vacancies should be filled by local nationals when possible. The only jobs left for U.S. spouses? KP, child care and anything that is beneath the Germans.

It’s amazing that U.S. civil service employees are working for Germans, Turks and other nationalities on U.S. installations in senior positions without security clearances or qualifications, and U.S. citizens are held to standards.

The five-year rule raises more questions than it answers. I wonder if the judge who made the ruling to uphold this policy would work for people less qualified and paid twice as much. The DOD lawyer should come and work under the rule he defended so well. There is more to this issue than what Stripes has printed and what the American people and Congress are aware of.

Elder Leanon Trawick,president,NAACP, Hanau BranchHanau, Germany


As military spouses, we put up with a lot from the military. Things like not spending the holidays with our loved ones, being moved every couple of years, and having to go to a hospital on the economy because there isn’t one on our base. But there’s one thing that we should not have to put up with, and that’s being woke up at 6 a.m. by the sounds of a lawn mower or a wood chipper, as my family was the other morning.

I’m not sure about other bases, but the one in Bamberg, Germany, is a very small base. So I can understand that because of a lack of space that we can be woke up by the loud counting of the guy running the soldiers for physical training. But the other morning the soldiers’ families were awakened by the sounds of a wood chipper at 6:45 a.m. right outside our bedroom windows.

I’d like to know who is responsible for allowing this to happen. I can understand that they need to do their jobs. But if they are going to start at 6 a.m., they should start in the business areas or office areas where people are already awake or not yet there. But not outside the homes of spouses and their families. Just because the soldiers are awake and out doing PT does not mean that their spouses and young children are awake or not at home. If they started working after 9 a.m. then we’d be all right. But 6 a.m. is not being respectful toward the families who live in these buildings.

I hope this letter encourages more spouses to speak up about the noise, and hopefully is read by the person in charge of the groundskeepers. Hopefully, something will change.

Tiffany WeissnBamberg, Germany

August 28

Gas prices

While traveling recently in Italy, I noticed that 100 liters of regular unleaded gasoline at exchanges in both Vicenza and Naples sold for $34, while I pay $41 here in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Earlier in the year, I read with disdain AAFES’ pricing rationale for Germany, which was to effectively levy a 65-cent charge (profit) over its purchase price per gallon to bring us in line with the average retail price in the U.S., and then add an additional profit line to cover some never totally explained activity.

AAFES and the Naval Exchange somehow manage to sell 100 liters of gasoline for $7 cheaper in Italy, so why the higher price here in Germany? Are the forces in Germany subsidizing activities elsewhere? Is AAFES forced to sell cheaper gasoline in Italy because the Navy has refused to go along with this pricing charade? I’d like an answer to this pricing difference.

Leaders take note: a $7 difference per 100 liters makes a real difference in the effective spending power of soldiers, airmen and their families. It should be treated as a quality-of-life issue to be addressed, not set aside due to morale, welfare and recreation contribution considerations.

Robert GoodwinKaiserslautern, Germany

Starving children

On Sept. 11, 2001, 36,615 children died because of hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The place: In the poorest countries of the world. Special televised reports: None. Articles in newspapers: None. Messages from heads of state: None. An appeal by associations against the crisis: None. Messages of solidarity: None. Minutes of silence: None. Homage to the victims: None. Specially-organized forums: None. Messages from the pope: None. Mobilization of armies: None. Hypotheses about the identity of the criminals: None.

Possibly responsible for the crime: Rich countries. Stock exchanges: normal. Value of the euro: normal. Level of alarm: nonexistent.

David CurtisSomerset, England

Baseball labor talks

Major League Baseball owners and players are feuding yet again. I have a few words of wisdom for these folks. The players are getting paid millions to play a game. Sniffle, sniffle.

The owners own baseball teams. Waaaah.

Sgt. T.J. WestphalCamp Magrath, Kosovo

Pledge of Allegiance

This is regarding those servicemembers like the writer of the letter “Thoughts on pledge” (July 13) who think our country is one in which the “majority rules.” I must ask them to actually sit down and read what they swore to uphold and defend: The U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document is a deity mentioned. And nowhere does it say the majority rules. It does offer protection to the minority viewpoint from the oppression of the majority.

As pointed out by other writers, the pledge was modified in 1954 when the words “under God” were added to distinguish us Americans from those “godless Commies.” It violated the First Amendment back then, and it was finally recognized as such by a court.

The letter writer said he would be offended if “under God” was removed. I guess he never really thought about his oath of enlistment. If these words are unconstitutional, he should be arguing that their removal, while not his preference due to his religious beliefs, should occur because they violate that which he swore to defend.

I’ve spent my career making sure that those who work for me are able to practice their religious beliefs whenever possible. I’ve worked extra hours to release a troop to attend mass, synagogue, mosque, temple, circle or church. My job is to ensure the well-being of those who work for me. I also expect them to do their best for those who come after them. I also expect them to have respect for all beliefs, whether they agree with them or not. This is in that realm.

Not all Americans are followers of an Abrahamic religion. Not all Americans follow a religious belief. That is the thing that makes America great: our diversity. It’s wrong to force the beliefs of the majority upon those in the minority. What would those like the letter writer do if their beliefs were suddenly in the minority and the new majority wished to force their beliefs upon the country?


Tech Sgt. Frank GonzalezBuckley Air BaseWestminster, Colo.

August 29

Baseball situation

I quite agree with the letter “Possible baseball strike” (Aug. 24). But this entire situation is a rather large microcosm of modern culture. Unrestrained greed, indeed! The players aren’t the only guilty party here. The fat-cat owners play an equal role in this offensive quagmire. Their ego-driven spending habits have created an atmosphere of never-ending, upward spiraling salaries as far as the players see it. And yes, I think the players are stupid enough to agree with the notion that this can go on forever.

Something has to give. A compromise? That won’t fix things for long. Baseball shoots itself in the foot, and it’s the fans who bleed. I’m tired of bleeding.

I may be one of baseball’s biggest fans. I’ve been studying the game for more than 30 years. It’s been one of my favorite passions in life. I’m not willing to forget about my childhood heroes: Boog, Frank, Brooks and Jim. Nor will I ever forget any of the other heroes, or goats for that matter, who have been lucky enough to play a game for a living.

But if this thing happens, baseball just might lose one of its biggest supporters.

I’m tired of this unmitigated greed. For me, the future of baseball ends with a strike. Readers should consider joining me. Where will the line finally be drawn?

As far as filling in is concerned, even at 44 I can still hit line drives, and spear them as well. Sign me up. I’ll gladly play for half the minimum! America’s pastime has passed its prime. Thank God the NFL season starts soon!

Tom CreleyGarmisch, Germany

Depleted uranium munitions

As the probability of war in Iraq escalates, it is imperative that we refrain from again using depleted uranium munitions during combat because of the serious adverse health and environmental consequences. Following the Gulf War, I was tasked to clean up the DU friendly fire mess and then became the Army’s DU project director from August 1994 through November 1995.

Although training and operational readiness are essential, my primary concern is for medical care of all exposed individuals. I and physicians assigned to the 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command immediately issued verbal and written orders following the completion of the ground war to provide medical care for all individuals who were exposed to DU. A message from Headquarters, Department of the Army dated Oct. 14, 1993, officially specified the exposure conditions requiring medical care. They are: A. Being in the midst of smoke from DU fires resulting from the burning of vehicles uploaded with DU munitions or depots in which DU munitions are being stored. B. Working within environments containing DU dust or residues from DU fires. C. Being within a structure or vehicle when it is struck by DU munitions.

It has been 11 years since the extensive use of depleted uranium munitions during the Gulf War. This was followed by use of DU in the Balkans, on Vieques, Puerto Rico, in preparation for combat use in the Balkans, on Okinawa and on many military installations around the world. Visual evidence, personal experience and published reports verify that:

1. Medical care has not been provided to all DU casualties even though many men, women and children are sick and too many have died.

2. Environmental remediation has not been completed.

3. Contaminated and damaged equipment and materials have been recycled to manufacture new products.

4. Training and education have only been partially implemented.

5. Contamination management procedures have not been distributed and implemented.

Consequently, if we use DU munitions again in contaminated areas or in any new locations, we will cause additional health problems and environmental contamination. As a scientist, educator and military officer who was given the responsibility by U.S. Army officials to clean up the DU mess, I must issue the following recommendation: Do not use depleted uranium munitions again!

Dr. Doug RokkeRantoul, Ill.

Fort Bragg killings

An Army medical team is being sent to Ft. Bragg, N.C., to probe the recent domestic killings and suicides allegedly involving soldiers. I don’t find it odd that the government is trying to link this to a “pill.” Why doesn’t the government realize that maybe it isn’t a “pill” that causes these things? Maybe it’s the lack of emotional and psychological support that the military fails to offer its soldiers and families in their time of need.

If readers were to look back throughout the years, these are not the first incidences of domestic violence at Ft. Bragg that have led to deaths. The Army is renowned for its family support, but a lot of us have yet to see this occur. I’ve been married for 10 years to a soldier who has served for 19 years, and I’ve yet to ever receive a phone call of support or an offer of assistance from anyone. I’ve only gotten calls asking me to volunteer at a bake sale or fund-raiser.

Barbie NixonHeidelberg, Germany

August 30

Five-year rule letter

The letter “Five-year rule” (Aug. 27) brought to light an issue which many people were unaware of. The part of the letter that hit close to home for me was about food service workers or kitchen police. Because of the five-year rule and other factors, the hiring of food service workers is at an all-time low. There are simply not enough people to fill the positions once family members PCS or workers return to the U.S. under the five-year rule. The situation is now so critical that we have commanders wanting to know why their dining facilities are not properly staffed.

As we all know, sanitation is very important with dining facilities, not to mention the health concerns involved. Making food service workers’ positions exempt from the five-year rule would not only save the government thousands of dollars, it would also help alleviate the problem that many base support battalions are now experiencing.

If the truth were told, there are really not many food service worker positions stateside. Most, if not all, of the work is performed by contract employees, not government employees. This is something that really needs to be looked at by the officials who can make a change.

Ernest Meadows,dining facility attendant managerGiessen, Germany

'Gas prices' response

This is in regard to the letter “Gas prices” (Aug. 28). I agree with the letter writer that AAFES’ gasoline pricing policy in Germany is hard to understand, much less justify. If AAFES’ mission is to provide quality goods at reasonable prices for the military and Department of Defense civilian work force, then raising gasoline prices to match a stateside average is absolutely asinine. To try to justify this by saying that it serves to reduce the cost of some loss-leader merchandise merely emphasizes the evident AAFES attitude that those of us overseas “just don’t get it.”

However, there is no way to compare gasoline prices in Italy with those in Germany. AAFES does not determine gas prices in Italy. In fact, in Italy AAFES is only in the picture as the sales agency for gasoline. In Italy, gas prices are negotiated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe representatives in Naples, and that price is the AAFES sale price. Yes, we here in Italy pay less for our gasoline. On the other hand, we don’t have any handy-dandy AAFES gas stations on any of our bases either, so I guess it balances out.

The bottom line is that different places have different rules and different ways of doing things. The fact that it is done one way in Germany doesn’t mean it will be the same way in another country where U.S. forces are located. Crying about the differences serves no purpose.

Patrick I. QuinnVicenza, Italy

St. Petersburg vacation

I’d like to add something to the letter “Russia vacation” (Aug. 20). I have been on literally hundreds of holiday trips in my life. At no time have I encountered such idiocy, arrogance and incompetence as I did when dealing with Top Touristik.

I won’t bore readers with the dozens of mistakes it made, but I’d like to share one in particular. I was told it had made a mistake on my visa by recording my name improperly and that this might be a problem. One evening I returned home to find a message on my answering machine saying I had to call Top Touristik about some “urgent” thing or other.

Concerned, I telephoned the next day. But no one could tell me why I had been called. I was assured that my call would be returned with some follow-up information. Not once did I ever receive a return call, and neither did any of my colleagues. At one point, after my third or so call, I was told that “if all our customers called as much as you, I’d never get any work done.” To this I politely reminded the travel agent that I was only returning a call because Top Touristik needed my help in resolving some “urgent” issue. Later the travel agent admitted to me that two women missed the trip because their visas were not ready.

Not only were the Top Touristik employees rude, but also all sights of any real interest cost extra. So I ended up paying about $400 more than anticipated by the time I paid for a visa, side trips, a single supplement and meals (because the meals provided were totally unacceptable).

On a positive note, our St. Petersburg tour guide, Tanya Svyatodumova, deserves a huge thank you. She was incredible and managed to calm down 18 very angry people who she found waiting for her when we arrived at the St. Petersburg airport.

Dr. Mike LarrimoreAnsbach, Germany

August 31


I’ve been in the U.S. Army for about three years now, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, some lessons come in ways that they should not. Specifically, I’ve learned a lot about parenting. My wife and I have no kids yet. But living on New Argonner Kaserne in Hanau, Germany, has brought me one step closer to being a good parent.

What will it take for parents in the military to keep a better eye on their kids? Just two weeks ago, a young child rode her bike out and hit my wife’s car as she was driving through the housing area. My wife was driving at a safe speed and watching to make sure there were no kids around. But it was to no avail. The child came out from in front of a parked sports utility vehicle and struck the rear of my wife’s car. Luckily, the worst thing that happened was the car got a scratch and a flat tire. If this would have happened a few seconds earlier, the girl could have been struck by the front of the car and seriously injured. It’s sad to say, but it seems to me that it will take something like that to make parents open their eyes. Which parent is ready to deal with a dead child because he couldn’t teach the child proper respect for traffic?

Driving through every day, I deal with kids who ride bikes in the middle of the road and don’t move for cars. There are also skateboarders who ride straight through a stop sign in front of cars, and kids who lay in the middle of the street playing with each other. They don’t move until a car literally stops and honks for the children to move. On top of that, children play around parked cars with bikes, water guns, and many other toys that could easily scratch cars or break windows. I have to tell a different child every day to move away from my car and go play somewhere else. I will not tolerate my brand new car being scratched up because children won’t play in the designated playground areas.

There will probably be letters knocking me because I have no kids. But I don’t need kids, because I watch all the parents’ kids in New Argonner on a daily basis. I’m not asking for a lot. All I’m asking is that parents teach their kids respect for traffic and make them play in designated areas. Next to my $20,000 car is not a place for children to play. If this letter keeps one kid from being injured or killed, then it has served its purpose.

Spc. Kenneth W. SalleeHanau, Germany

AFN programming

I know AFN television gets a lot of heat about its programming, but I couldn’t let this one go. On Aug. 26 at about 7:30 a.m. as I was changing into my battle dress uniform after physical training, I turned on AFN and found that it was showing the movie “Something about Mary,” a comedy that came out a few years ago. The movie showed the two main characters sitting on a car while watching a sunset and smoking a marijuana cigarette. The scene ended, and AFN then went directly to an announcement telling parents to monitor what their children watch on TV.

AFN shouldn’t be showing movies like this in the morning when most children in Europe have TVs on while getting ready for school. The scene in question is in poor taste for kids and undermines the hard work of parents, teachers and law enforcement agencies to keep drugs away from kids. I don’t think AFN can deny that there isn’t something else it could be airing at this time. The announcement after the scene was just another ironic twist to the ongoing struggle with AFN and its programming.

I think AFN officials should actually sit down and watch what it puts out there. And while they’re at it, they should have someone fix the sound on the AFN Pacific channel in Heidelberg, Germany. It hasn’t worked for nearly three weeks.

Cliff OliverHeidelberg, Germany

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