November 24


Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

November 24 Obesity Government needs God Bagging flap Gun control responseNovember 25 What's happened to military? Mom applaudedNovember 26 Americans are visitors Don't take our land Lcok doors, be waryNovember 27 Recruiting column Bagging controversyNovember 28 'AFN soldiers Thanksgiving Map incorrectNovember 29 'PT clothes' response Where are kids? Helping is good

November 30 Teens/medals Parking woes Chinese flag on U.S. ship

The editorial excerpt “Runaround on childhood obesity” (Nov. 17) and the accompanying editorial cartoon were timely commentaries on the health of not only our children, but our nation as a whole. I commend Stars and Stripes for highlighting such an important issue.

Obesity in children is at an epidemic level, as cited by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The factors contributing to obesity are many: heredity, diet, exercise, education, and cultural and familial norms. One of these factors was given a full-court press in “The meal deal” (Nov. 17), which consisted of several stories in Stripes Sunday magazine that highlighted diet in the military. The statistics cited in these articles emphasized the increase in obesity in the U.S. military and the American public. The statistics are staggering. Not only is military readiness impacted, but the nation’s future health is jeopardized. Eventually, health care costs will skyrocket since obesity is the underlying cause of numerous medical conditions.

A recent issue of Health Magazine said, somewhat tongue in cheek, that Americans might not have to worry about the health of our Social Security program because too few of us will live to collect the benefits. But obesity is a curable condition. All is not lost. In one of the Stripes articles, contributor and health educator Maureen Mintzlaff said, “The only way to address the obesity problem is through incorporating regular exercise with a good diet based on sound nutritional principles.” It’s with this guideline in mind that we must look to our future: our children.

In President Bush’s educational effort, “No child left behind,” we must be mindful of not only the academic needs of children but also their physical education. The mind/body connection is one we cannot overlook. “Runaround on childhood obesity” asserted, “While recognizing that schools today attempt to cover a lot of ground … the educational process would be wise not to lose sight of the fact that a sound body is an important contributor to having a sound mind…”

The Parent, Teacher, and Student Association of Heidelberg Middle School in Germany is sponsoring a nationally-known speaker, Jean Blaydes, who will address the “mind/body” connection during a general membership meeting at the school at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 25. After having spent a day with the HMS faculty, Mrs. Blaydes will be available to parents and the public.

Mrs. Blaydes is a speaker who inspires her audience to laugh aloud, participate fully, and walk away humming tunes that connect concepts of brain research with educational performance and physical fitness. She’s beyond motivational — she’s inspirational. We cordially invite members of the military and civilian community to join us on Nov. 25. Together we may begin to understand how obesity is affecting our children and learn ways to combat, if not turn around, this epidemic.

Lynn MattinglyHeidelberg, Germany

Government needs God

This is in response to the article “Judge rules against monument” (Nov. 19). I believe a simple answer is available to all the crime, drug and alcohol abuse, vulgarity in the press/media, school shootings, sniper attacks and parents wondering what’s happening to their children. Our country was founded and our Constitution was written on the basis of several principles: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, etc. Our national motto is, “In God we trust.” The problem is that our judicial system has taken God out of America.

As Christians we stand up for people’s freedom of speech, religion, etc. Now our judicial system has taken a stand by saying that we must respect all other religions. But our children cannot recite the Lord’s Prayer in schools. We cannot display religious monuments in government locations anymore.

Other nationalities and ethnic organizations can openly display their national/ethnic flags, but the flag that represented the Confederate States of America violates others’ rights, so it must come down. This flag represents American heritage just as much as others do. Where is the freedom? One ethnic group disagrees with it, so it must go. What if others disagree with their heritage? The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, but not that one heritage can make the existence of another disappear.

Could members of other religions and fanatic sects be laughing at America because of what we stand and fight for? We condemn our own rights and allow others to trod on us. The answer to most of the problems in America today is to put “In God we trust” back into our daily lives, and most of all, back into our government!

Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth A. Cox (Ret.)Boeblingen, Germany

Bagging flap

I want to address the flap over youngsters bagging purchases at post exchanges. I’m a teacher, parent, and retired military member. My kids are grown. I’ve also been a sports coach, and I currently coach drill for JROTC. So I can look at this from many angles, and I still come to the same conclusion: to stop this activity is wrong!

We’re talking about children who struggle as it is to find things to do in Europe. The writer of the letter “Don’t beg just yet” (Nov. 15), who is obviously in the minority on this issue, wants the rug pulled out from under our kids’ feet. What kind of person is so self-centered and bitter at the world that he can’t see the good that this does? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this benefits the entire community.

Next will we ask that baggers be removed from commissaries and that the Combined Federal Campaign be removed from bases completely? Shall we stop passing the plate at religious services, too? What’s next?

Ralph MooreGermany

Gun control response

The writer of the letter “Gun control” (Nov. 21) protested the violation of his constitutional right to bear arms by a “foreign power.” He seems to have forgotten that in Germany it is we who are the foreign power, not the Germans. We are subject to German laws except where the Status of Forces agreement makes exceptions.

If the writer is a uniformed servicemember, I’m confident that the U.S. government will supply him with all the arms he needs to fight terrorism when the time comes. If he’s a civilian, then nobody forced him to come over here. He’s free to return to the United States whenever he wants and bear arms to his heart’s content.

Robert JordanStuttgart, Germany

November 25

What happened to military?

When I first enlisted in 1979, the military was a tight-knit, family-oriented group. We had parties for people’s birthdays, promotions and weddings. We celebrated births and mourned deaths. We listened to each other’s problems and did what we could to help. We’d have little get-togethers. In short, we cared and we showed it.

One of the military’s biggest problems lately is retention. This can make or break a unit. If people are treated poorly, they’ll be lost. People don’t want to work someplace they don’t feel wanted. If people aren’t taken care of, they’ll probably be gone at the end of their enlistments. Then recruitment must outpace losses. Why not keep the people who are already in? If people in leadership positions are lost, new people have to take over. A person with years of experience is lost. That’s a rather bleak picture if it happens too much. Then there’s a bunch of folks trying their darnedest to keep the ship afloat, but not really knowing what they’re doing.

I challenge every commander, first sergeant, and supervisor to stop, take five minutes and think. What do they honestly know about the people assigned under them? Is there anything they could do to make the people under them feel more like friends of the family and less like employees? If so, why hasn’t it been done? Leaders should just ask their people how things are going. Really listen. Be honest. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear, and don’t give them “standard” military answers. If a leader says he’ll look into something, he should do it. It may seem minor, but to that person it may be monumental. Nothing will kill a person’s desire to follow someone faster than finding out that the leader doesn’t really have the subordinate’s best interest in mind.

I’ve been in the military for almost 24 years. I’ve seen a lot of new faces come and old friends go. I’ve also seen lots of new people leave after only a few years. How many of the new faces will be here next year? Is there anything I can do to help keep them here? Some I can help, and others I can’t. Good, hard-working, willing people are chased away because their needs aren’t attended to. They join voluntarily, full of energy, drive and enthusiasm. They leave like whipped puppies, and some get sour tastes in their mouths at the sheer mention of the military.

I’m a third-generation soldier and proudly followed my father’s example. He was a World War II and Vietnam veteran. He embodied everything I wanted to be. Today I hear, “It’s only a job,” and “I’m doing my four years and then I’m out of here.” What happened to pride in the uniform? What happened to pride in serving one’s country? When did it leave? Can we ever get it back? I hope so. It’s up to all of us, but it has to start at the top. There must be leadership by example, because the people below will be tomorrow’s leaders.

Jeffrey DeibertLandstuhl, Germany

Mom applauded

This is in response to the letter “Mom’s hectic day” (Nov. 17). I applaud the writer’s commitment to the toughest job in the world — motherhood. I agree that it’s a never-ending, full-time job with unlimited benefits. But I beg to disagree that the job provides no paycheck. My own perception of the story is that the writer only identifies her “hectic” day with those of other stay-at-home parents.

A friend of mine has three children. She remained a stay-at-home mom until the youngest was 2 years old. When the youngest was 4, my friend found herself a single parent. As a GS-5 civil servant at the time, she was faced with providing emotional, mental and financial care for these children. Her career, education and personal endeavors were placed in a 25-year holding pattern while she devoted her life to nurturing these children to become assets to society. Her days began at 4 a.m. as she made nourishing portable breakfasts (e.g., pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit) for her children to enjoy as she drove each of them to their respective bus stops or schools. They were cared for after school by this woman’s own mother, a blessing she can never repay.

From her full-time job she went to either a part-time job or home, where she worked on a sole-proprietor business, which she began. Between all of this, dinners were made, baths were drawn, PTA meetings were attended, and homework and school days were discussed. The weekends consisted of much the same: meal preparations, spending time together, doctors appointments, and soccer and basketball games. Her days normally ended between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

In her own words, the fruits of my friend’s labor “have generated higher returns than the best stock option on the market.” She beams with pride when she discusses the three most wonderful young adults she knows. Motherhood has always been, and will always be, the highest-paid job this woman will ever hold.

The moral to this story is: 1) Remember that no matter how challenging life is, there is always, always someone out there with a journey much more challenging; 2) Parenthood may be hectic at times, but the payoff will never cease; and 3) Enjoy every moment.

Teresa MurrayWürzburg, Germany

November 26

Americans are visitors

This is in reply to the letter “Gun control” (Nov. 21). I can’t agree more. Strip away our freedom. The right to bear arms. What I can’t agree with is the apparently overlooked fact that Americans have no U.S. constitutional rights while living outside of America’s jurisdiction. We’re visitors in our host countries and live by their rules, not by the American Bill of Rights or the Constitution. Americans need to get real and get over it.

Mike GoffKaiserslautern, Germany

Don't take our land

My name is Martin Pfisterer. I live next to Heidelberg airfield in Germany, where my family cultivates about 50 hectares of farmland. I seek the support of Americans in Germany concerning the planned expansion of Patrick Henry Village.

I’m shocked that decisions are made at only the top political level. What politicians decide upon is my property and the existence of my farm, which has been owned and run by my family since the 16th century. I’d like to inform readers about the consequences this idea would have for Heidelberg and its inhabitants, no matter what was built on the land.

• If these land claims of 50 to 710 hectares become reality, the U.S. military would ruin top-quality farmland affecting the livelihoods of about 50 farmers.• It would destroy an intact biological ecosystem and threaten to extinguish many animal species which can only exist on uninterrupted green land.• The groundwater would be jeopardized and Heidelberg would suffer from an increased risk of floods.• The fresh air circulation would be severely affected, increasing the risk of summer smog.• The traffic links between Eppelheim/Pfaffengrund and Kirchheim would be interrupted. This is reminiscent of the situation when Diebsweg, the road that crosses the airfield, was closed.• We would lose the largest recreational area in the south of Heidelberg.• A prohibited area and military ghetto would mean a considerable disturbance to German-America friendship.

I’m absolutely aware of the U.S. military’s security needs after what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. But is it more secure to concentrate everything in a single spot? Wouldn’t such a concentration offer an even larger, more attractive target for attacks? Heidelberg is located right beneath the entry lane for Frankfurt International Airport. And what about Autobahn 5? It leads right through the planned security area. I’m also concerned about my own family’s security, because my kids and I would then live right outside the fence.

Why doesn’t the U.S. Army utilize military facilities and plots which are already used for that purpose? Why don’t we receive any concrete information? Do the generals or politicians who want to put these plans into practice really believe that Heidelberg’s citizens will still welcome them, or at least behave neutrally toward them, once these land claims have been approved by the federal government?

All people living here, and even the churches, strongly disagree with this idea. Once U.S. military members’ service is finished, they may return to the States, while our homes would be left in ruins.

We want cooperation and friendship that accounts for the needs of all people living here, whether they’re Germans or Americans.

Martin PfistererHeidelberg, Germany

Lock doors, be wary

This is in regard to the letter “Con artist” (Nov. 21). I’m sorry the writer was taken advantage of, but I’m glad she’s doing the right thing and trying to bring this to the community’s attention.

The woman who the writer talked about has been approaching cars at the intersection near the Würzburg, Germany, hospital for at least six months. Usually she asks for three euros and makes some reference to her baby. She’s approached my car and those of at least six other soldiers or dependents. All but one were female and alone at the time. In one case, the woman got in a dependent’s vehicle and wanted to be taken somewhere. Then the woman tried to take the dependent’s shoes and a CD when told to get out of the car.

When I first learned of this, we published a short warning article in our unit’s family readiness group newsletter. But I work at the hospital, and I’ve still seen the woman from time to time approaching vehicles near that intersection.

Although I haven’t heard of the woman being violent or dangerous, I urge readers to lock their doors and be wary of her. This happens near the hospital, so there will always be soldiers in the area who are unfamiliar with her routine. She’ll continue to approach vehicles and ask for money as long as there is someone to give her some.

Spc. Karen HauptWürzburg, Germany

November 27

Recruiting column

I’m disappointed in Stars and Stripes yet again. In printing Juleyka Lantigua’s column “Military recruiters bully schools for access to students” (Nov. 22), Stripes editors further tarnished the paper’s credibility as our “hometown newspaper.”

Lantigua clearly has an anti-military agenda. She clearly has a problem with military recruiters contacting young people about serving their country. Her initial issue was that in one case, it was without a parent’s permission. While that concerns me as well, she didn’t address the larger issue correctly.

Lantigua used this one example to imply that it happens all over the country. That’s ridiculous. The recruiter shouldn’t have set up an interview in this manner. But to extend that to mean all recruiters do this regularly is irresponsible.

Lantigua also didn’t mention how some U.S. schools have banned their own country’s military from recruiting on campuses. The aim of the National Defense Authorization Act provision is to make schools receiving tax dollars lift these bans and provide access to recruiters just as they do for other organizations. But mentioning that objectively wouldn’t have supported Lantigua’s agenda, so she didn’t.

The writer then clumsily tried to play the race card by outrageously saying that “the armed forces have a long-standing tradition of recruiting soldiers of color [whatever that means] and sending them off to the front lines.” What?! That’s so ludicrous and far from any semblance of reality that I can’t find the words to adequately express my indignation. Lantigua then backed up this nonsense with some numbers she must have made up. I can’t find anything anywhere to substantiate them.

Lantigua then blasted the Marine Corps’ Web page, saying it reads “like a travel brochure.” I’m a Marine, and I’ve sure traveled. But it ain’t been Club Med. If Lantigua had gone to Afghanistan with our Marines, she wouldn’t have thought it exactly Club Med. What she took from the Web page was accurate except for some capitalizations made to ostensibly strengthen her race card argument. But they were taken out of context. She left out the parts about the Corps being warriors dedicated to fighting and winning America’s wars.

In a sop to “journalistic objectivity,” the writer added a few lines at the end about how the military might be OK for some people. It was done so amateurishly that I laughed out loud. The whole piece was poorly written and sensationalistic. A footnote said Lantigua is a free-lance journalist. I believe that. No reputable paper would hire someone who writes so sloppily, with such a blatant anti-military bias and with such weak “facts.”

If Stripes were really concerned with being our hometown paper, it wouldn’t have run this piece. If Stripes were interested in objectivity, it would’ve run a piece with Lantigua’s that showed the positive aspects of serving in the military.

Maj. S.J. FazekasStuttgart, Germany

Bagging controversy

I’m responding to the letter “Don’t beg just yet” (Nov. 15). I wonder if the writer was ever a Boy Scout or involved in any other youth activities while living overseas and tried to earn money for the organizations. Fund-raising isn’t easy here. I’m a Boy Scout, and some of the activities and events are very expensive. But what we learn at some of these events is very valuable, such as first aid, life-saving and emergency preparedness.

Does the writer have a child in any youth activities who needs to earn money, such as for sports, Scouts, school trips or religious education trips? Does he think the money always goes to the youths and their organizations? That’s not always true. I’ve bagged twice recently, and all the money went to the Fisher House. Maybe the writer should ask the families who unfortunately have to use the Fisher House what that extra money means to them. I’m glad we have Fisher Houses to help us when we need them.

What about the money collected for the families of Sept. 11, 2001, victims? Was that also a waste because no “hard work” was done by the many Scouts who willingly gave their time for that cause? Our troop members gave the money they raised to The Retired Officers Association, and I know it was appreciated. Maybe the scholarship money will help someone less fortunate.

I don’t know how many people really want a young person or teenager to iron their work uniforms. No one I asked does. Car washes? How many people want those same people washing their cars? So it becomes a job for parents, and youths aren’t earning donations.

I know that those of us in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Roman Catholic religious programs and classes often perform service projects and devote hours to our communities. We do give back!

As for cashiers at the post exchanges and base exchanges, aren’t they paid employees? Isn’t bagging a part of their jobs?

I’m thankful for the opportunities the base exchanges and shoppettes have given us to raise money. Remember, charity comes from the heart. No one has to give, especially with a heavy heart or attitude.

David ReccoRamstein Air Base, Germany

November 28

AFN soldiers

This is in response to the letter “Medals story” (Nov. 22). I fail to understand why the writer pointed out AFN soldiers specifically when he obviously has no idea what AFN does. I think I’m in a position to have an opinion.

If the writer thinks for one minute that all AFN soldiers do is the news, he’s sorely mistaken. These soldiers are all out on point more times than most people think or know. Wherever the Department of Defense goes, so does AFN or some element of the Army Broadcast Service. Take a look at the number of military broadcasters that the Army currently has, and one sees that they deploy just like everyone else. More times than not it’s on their own, meeting up with elements they’ve never operated with before. These are supported units that usually take them for granted. Members of these elements usually have the same opinion as the letter writer, which means these soldiers are automatically set up for failure from the get-go.

I’m not a broadcaster, nor do I want to be. The mission these individuals chose to take on when they joined is a 365-days-a-year mission with no training holidays or weekends off. And if something happens to the radio or television signals in the middle of the night, they don’t fix themselves.

I know there’s usually only one channel for both radio and television. But it’s American, and AFN tries to cater as much as possible to soldiers. AFN is important to me because my soldiers like AFN, and that’s enough. I think AFN soldiers earn what they get, so the writer should cut them a break. I do.

Staff Sgt. Gregory GrayCamp Darby, Italy


The holiday season is upon us, so I decided to think of just a few of the things I’m thankful for. I invite everyone who sees this to write in with their own lists. It doesn’t matter how they’re written, how long or short they are, or even what’s on them. They don’t even have to be unique. I suspect that we’re all thankful for pretty much the same things.

I’m thankful for:

• The roof over my head and the walls that hold it up.• The food in our cupboards.• The right to attend school.• My family.• The right to work outside the home.• Free speech.• Access to medical care.• The military folks who help keep us all safe and free. I thank them all.

Maybe this all sounds corny, but there are far too many people without some or all of these things. Readers should appreciate what they have. Some day they may lose it. The last time I made up such a list, there were far more things on it. I need a reminder of the things I’ve forgotten.

I hope the holidays go well for readers and everyone stays safe.

Lori GreenAviano Air Base, Italy

Map incorrect

Last week CNN bombarded us with the news that American schoolchildren are sorely lacking in geography skills. It seems it’s not only American children, but also Stars and Stripes editors who need a little help.

I usually just give a casual glance to the Mideast weather to see the temperature ranges in that area of the world. But the Mideast weather map in Stripes on Nov. 23 caught my eye. I think it was seeing Bombay in Turkmenistan, Karachi in Oman, and Baghdad in Pakistan that seemed just a bit odd. Bombay needs to be located in India, Karachi in Pakistan and Baghdad in Iraq.

Of the cities identified on the map, only 10 out of 18 were right. That’s 55 percent. They were Cairo, Tel Aviv, Incirlik, Tehran, Kuwait, Dhahran, Zahedan, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

I got out my 1990 National Geographic atlas and did a little research on this area of the world. Islamabad is in northern Pakistan. Ashgabat is the capital of Turkmenistan. New Delhi is farther north in India. Hyderabad (India) is farther south in India, and the second Hyderabad identified belongs in southern Pakistan.

No stars or smiley faces for this assignment. I’d give it an “N” for “needs improvement.”

Susan M. FowlerStuttgart, Germany

November 29

'PT clothes' response

The writer of the letter “PT clothes” (Nov. 22) had reason to comment on spouses wearing physical training clothing. But I found it very offensive when she suggested that stay-at-home parents “should get up in the morning, take showers, apply a little bit of makeup and do their hair to make themselves feel a little better. And they should please put on some of their own clothes!” The writer’s comment about PT clothes was one thing. But the rest went somewhere she shouldn’t have gone. Did the writer think about what she was writing or reread what she wrote? Or did she just spout off without thinking? That’s how it appears.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have a college degree and had a very fulfilling career before I chose motherhood. I got up every day and did the things the writer said people should do. Then I chose to give all of that up to do the most important job in the world: raise my children myself.

Can the writer explain what doing any of the things quoted above have to do with being a stay-at-home parent? Why would I force myself to neglect my children if time and opportunity did not allow me to put on makeup, fix my hair, etc.? Who is the writer to say that I don’t feel wonderful about myself without putting on clothes and a face for others? My children don’t care how I look. They only care that I’m here for them and that I put them before laundry, dishes, showering, phone calls, family readiness group meetings, coffees or anything else in the world less important than they are. And if I choose to wear my clothing or my husband’s clothing, that’s my business. Fashion police aren’t needed in my world.

I think implying that everyone should do certain things to feel good about themselves is a sad cry of the way the writer may feel about herself. But she need not put her own personal self-confidence issues on others. Sometimes people should learn to state an opinion and stick to the topic at hand. This one went too far!

Cris ButlerBaumholder, Germany

Where are kids?

Do parents really know where their teen-agers are when they kiss their cheeks and send them off to school each morning? I can tell them. They’re in my basement getting their own kind of education.

I live in the Hainerberg Housing area in Wiesbaden, Germany. I recently moved into one of the remodeled buildings on California Strasse. While my neighbors and I try to maintain the yard on weekdays, we keep coming across high school student couples either tucked cozily into empty storage units or right out in the middle of the basement halls. This happens anywhere from 9 a.m. on. I know it’s up to the building’s patrons to keep the doors shut and locked, but one person can always forget. Plus we’ve had some windows kicked in.

Does the school do anything when students aren’t in class? I graduated from high school five years ago in Killeen, Texas. I remember so well that my high school had an automated system that would call a student’s home and leave a message that the student had missed class on a certain day. It was left on an answering machine if nobody was home. The student then had to bring a letter to school from a parent the next day that included either a doctor’s note or some other reasonable excuse. Maybe the school here should adopt some sort of system instead of letting these students miss classes without any consequences.

I’m sure many parents think these kids in the basement in Wiesbaden can’t be their own children. They may not be, but they’re somebody’s.

Do the military police who drive around during the day have any authority to do something about these truant students? Other hangout spots include the gazebo near the playground running between Florida Strasse and California Strasse. I probably don’t even have to mention what students have been caught doing there.

Tamika ChristieWiesbaden, Germany

Helping is good

I’d like to comment on the letter “Con artist” (Nov. 21). What the writer did was a beautiful thing for a fellow human being. What the con artist did was a crime against humanity and will be punished by a higher authority. The writer shouldn’t stop being compassionate just because of a bad experience. Her first sergeant was right to say that maybe the Combined Federal Campaign is a better way. But loving and helping neighbors is what it’s all about.

James M. DuffyHanau, Germany

November 30


I’d like to comment on two recent Stripes letters, in order of importance.

The writer of the letter “Kids’ conduct” (Nov. 18), who is experiencing difficulties with teenagers in Wiesbaden, Germany, should find his local civilian misconduct office. Then he should ask questions such as, “How do I document alleged juvenile delinquent behavior on or around my post?” And also, “Would spraying someone with a fire extinguisher constitute assault?” The writer may then be directed to the military police and might end up involving his chain of command. But all of the above sounds appropriate based on what his letter described.

Put another way, it’s just as easy to send an out-of-control child back to the United States as it is a spouse. And parents often become interested in where their children are at 2 a.m. when someone threatens to send their sons or daughters back to the United States to live with “Aunt Sally.”

As for the writer of the letter “Medals story” (Nov. 22), there’s a journalism award floating about called the “Department of the Army Keith L. Ware Award.” The general idea is to bestow the award on public affairs soldiers and civilians to recognize quality in print or broadcast journalism. Gen. Keith L. Ware was a career infantry officer killed during the Vietnam War. As the story goes, Ware was the Army’s Chief of Information from 1966 to 1967 (thus the journalism/grunt connection). He was killed by enemy fire in a combat zone. (I’m sure there were places in Vietnam that were not combat zones during the war, but Ware was in one when he died).

While stationed at the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany, a few years ago, I asked an ex-AFN reporter turned “combat” photographer about her rather large assemblage of uniformed fruit salad. She explained how the number of combat zones and peacekeeping areas she had deployed into in the past 10 or so years had provided her with an inordinate number of campaign ribbons. She recounted the number of places where she could have taken a bullet because she was right there in the mud with the grunts, tankers and artillerymen, documenting their efforts with a camera. Facts are facts.

Richard HenricksBamberg, Germany

Parking Woes

I want to voice my feelings about the fact that there is little parking at the Vogelweh and Ramstein Air Base exchanges in Germany. The Vogelweh BX’s parking lot has a huge Christmas market in it that is taking up a lot of parking spaces. The Ramstein BX parking lot is half closed because of resurfacing and a Christmas market.

I don’t understand why the Christmas markets can’t be put somewhere else. One year the Ramstein Christmas market was in the courtyard between the BX and the Power Zone. Why can’t it be there? One year the Vogelweh Christmas market was in the parking lot that right now has the BX overflow parking. Could the powers who make these decisions have made a better choice? I think so.

I think more and more people are going to be shopping on the Internet because they don’t want to fight the crowds. Making all this worse, we keep seeing ads and commercials telling us what day we have to have our packages mailed to get them to the United States on time. I think we need to voice our opinions to AAFES managers and let them know how we feel.

Lisa VignassiSembach Air Base, Germany

Chinese flag on U.S. ship

When I first heard the story on AFN radio that the American destroyer USS Paul F. Foster had pulled into the Chinese port of Qingdao flying both the American and Chinese flags, I thought I had heard wrong. Then there was the Stars and Stripes story “U.S. warship docks in China” (Nov. 25).

The USS Foster is still a vessel of the U.S. Navy and is therefore under no jurisdiction of any country other than the United States. It is incomprehensible to me that we would allow one of our warships to fly any flag besides that of the United States. Have we become so politically (in)correct that we allow our vessels to fly not only a foreign flag, but that of a communist country? I don’t care if President Clinton gave China favored nation trade status.

This is an outrage that should turn the stomach of any American citizen. I understand that foreign relations need to be kept up to prevent acts of war, which should be a last resort. But there’s a big difference between diplomacy and cowering to a foreign government.

Gene HensleyStuttgart, Germany

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