May 18

An infantryman’s life

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

May 18 An infantryman’s life Things can be worse Safety problemMay 19 Waiting out stop loss Lynch’s rescue newsworthy Diapers won’t fuel car Making a difference in Iraq All servicemembers are heroesMay 20 Mail to Iraq too slow … … and doesn’t follow troops Right route victim of red tapeMay 21 Emergency support Thanks to commander Era for exclusion has passedMay 22 Reserve/National Guard Career advancement Gas price differences Stereotypes don’t befit tattoosMay 23 Downrange mail Pulse magazineMay 24 Great soldier School bomb threats

My name is Sgt. Adam Zigelhofer. I’m an infantryman with Company B, 1/502 Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. I’m writing from Baghdad.

We don’t have all of the luxuries that most other personnel in the military have, such as regular mail service, showers, and receiving and reading Stars and Stripes. Recently I read a story in Stripes about a soldier’s daily life during the war. I’d like for once to hear how an infantryman’s life is during the war — the hardships and pain that we sometimes go through. We don’t have tents, sleeping bags or showers. All we have is poncho liners. We sleep in schools that we’ve searched. We’ve found large weapons caches in them. Usually most of the windows are broken out and most of the desks have been broken by the Iraqi Republican Guard. We don’t carry our rucksacks because we are constantly moving. We carry assault packs, Meals Ready to Eat, water and ammunition.

We do patrols daily around the cities that we’ve been through, such as Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad. The patrols we do are long and deliberate. We see people who are so happy that we’re in their country that they’re close to tears. Then we see other people who despise us for being in Iraq. In the crowds there is also another group of people who spy on our patrols and attempt to set up ambushes and take potshots at us. We do patrols during the day and night, as well as force protection around the abandoned school that we are in each day.

During our patrols we’re constantly looking for land mines or unexploded ordnance while scanning rooftops for snipers or rocket propelled grenade gunners. During patrols we hear gunfire, land mine explosions, and indirect fire impacts all the time, wondering if that next pop or explosion will be coming from us. We have to be suspicious of everyone because the Republican Guard and Fedayeen military groups dress as civilians. They have done drive-by shootings and tossed hand grenades at us.

We’re constantly moving around and do not have the luxury of taking showers. We have not taken showers in 30 days. When we get to an abandoned school, we use a water faucet to wash our faces, hair and hands, if that’s possible before the water runs out.

We read stories in Stars and Stripes about other soldiers having entertainment and morale, welfare and recreation assets available to them. Our entertainment is each other. We tell jokes and stories or talk about our families. We receive mail but only on rare occasions because we are constantly moving.

I’m not writing this letter to complain, but to tell the American people how we are doing. We are destroying all armed Iraqi soldiers and vehicles that we confront.

Sgt. Adam ZigelhoferBaghdad, Iraq

Things can be worse

This is in response to the letter “Camp conditions” (April 20) about unsatisfactory living conditions at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. I lived at Camp Arifjan, and I fail to see it from the writer’s perspective. I’m now at Tallil Air Base in Iraq. I personally believe the writer needs to take the silver spoon out of her mouth and put on a desert camouflage uniform. The writer is at war, and the military attempts to do the best it can with living conditions.

I live in a destroyed barracks that looks like it hasn’t been repaired since the first Gulf War. I’m thankful for it. I’m also thankful, as I should be, for the shower constructed out of ponchos and the outhouse in our back yard. Things can be a lot worse, and they are for combat soldiers on the front lines who would kill for 10 minutes of Camp Arifjan’s air conditioning.

I fail to see any merit in the writer’s comments or those of anyone else from Camp Arifjan. As for the civilians who closed their facilities during the war, I’m sure the civilians do as much or as little as they feel safe doing. We agreed to fight for our beliefs. They agreed to make life a little better for us. But I fault no one for not wanting to risk their lives to make someone a Whopper.

Spc. Michael KosinskiTallil Air Base, Iraq

Safety problem

Ten hours into a 12-hour shift on Easter Sunday, a most unsafe act threatening soldiers’ safety occurred. I was approached by a British intelligence captain who needed to converse with one of the Iraqi soldiers who was in Compound 7. To my surprise, the British captain entered my compound without my authorization. He then escorted one of the Iraqi generals into our command post to conduct an interview.

The problem with this was that all of the guards’ weapons were present. This was a direct violation of camp rules.

When I spoke to the British captain about his action, he said, “The prisoner will not hurt anyone.” I was completely outraged by the British captain’s actions. In short, the safety of American troops meant absolutely nothing to this intelligence officer.

Staff Sgt. Michael BloomIraq

May 19

Waiting out stop loss

This is in reference to the letter “Stop loss unfair” (May 8). I had planned on getting married and starting a new life after the Army. But that was put on hold after I was put on stop loss. Now I’m deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I’m glad to serve my country here in Kuwait, but I’m sincerely hoping that I’ll be allowed to move on after we return to the United States.

I’m also wondering what’s going on with stop loss, but I’m willing to wait it out for as long as it takes. I truly want to be with my future husband. I love him and miss him dearly. I have to keep going and take one day at a time. There are a lot of people who are affected by stop loss, and I’m sure they feel the same way the letter writer does. I know I do.

But everyone has to realize that stop loss will eventually be over. It’s just a matter of time. I’m willing to wait to be with my fiance. Is everyone else willing to wait too?

Angela ParkerKuwait

Lynch's rescue newsworthy

I don’t know if Pfc. Jessica Lynch acted heroically when she was captured. I wasn’t there, and neither were the people who are complaining about her being called a hero. The writer of the letter “What makes a hero” (May 4) should be ashamed of his comments. The remarks included, “Pfc. Jessica Lynch has been made the poster girl for heroism when basically all she did was make a wrong turn and get lost.” As a private first class, I seriously doubt that Pfc. Lynch was leading the convoy and responsible for it getting lost. The writer further said, “A hero in my opinion is someone who charges an enemy gun nest or runs through a hail of bullets to pull his buddy to safety.” Maybe Pfc. Lynch did this. We don’t know. We weren’t there.

The writer of “Lynch praise ridiculous” (May 8) said, “It’s ridiculous how the military can praise one person’s story and not the stories of thousands of others who were at the same place in the same war, and even those of other prisoners of war as well.” Well, this is how the media works. Pfc. Lynch’s rescue was dramatic and therefore newsworthy. It’s impossible for the media to write about every soldier who fought during this campaign.

Is Pfc. Lynch a hero? Yes. Anyone who has the guts to become a member of the military is a hero. Doing one’s job doesn’t make a person a hero, but being a soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman is much more than a job. It’s a willingness to sacrifice one’s self for our country.

Pfc. Lynch has sacrificed blood, sweat and tears for America. She was wounded in action and became a prisoner of war. So unless someone comes forward and says that Pfc. Lynch hid under her truck and did not fight the enemy, then she’s a hero!

Staff Sgt. Dave ReeceBaghdad, Iraq

Diapers won't fuel car

This is in response to the letter “Gas prices too high” (May 15).

Some readers might remember last year when AAFES defended the high prices we pay for gas by saying that we consumers save on other items such as diapers, which are sold at 1 cent over cost. Well duh! Diapers won’t fuel my car.

Approximately two months ago, AAFES raised gas prices two months in a row with little or no warning. It amounted to about a 26 cents per gallon increase. This isn’t my first letter addressing this issue, nor do I believe it will be the last, providing I’m around long enough.

The bottom line is that AAFES should stop taking advantage of us. And the next time it lowers gas prices, AAFES should please try not to raise prices on other items to compensate. Like I said before, we’re not stupid.

Charles C. JonesSchweinfurt, Germany

Making a difference in Iraq

I thank Stars and Stripes for the great job it’s doing keeping up the morale of soldiers. I know that deep in their hearts all American soldiers thank Stripes just the same. I find it good to be kept informed of what’s going on in my surroundings as well as seeing what’s going on back home. It gives me the best of both worlds.

Whatever it is that the military has me do here in Iraq, I know that I’m making a difference in helping to win this war toward achieving world peace and freedom for folks who seem to be dearly in need of it.

I’m proud to be serving the U.S. Army under such intense, smart and strong leadership, from our honorable President Bush down to the squad leaders in charge of me.

I’ve been blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ to have an opportunity to be a part of history. I’ll tell all my folks back home how blessed they are to live the way we do, and I’ll teach my children to be grateful to be Americans.

Our country is a blessed one, and the members of even the poorest families have a chance to succeed. We tend to complain about what we have, and yet looking back we have plenty and more. God bless and keep blessing our nation forever. Let it become a nation of one, as our new Army has become an “Army of One.”

I again thank Stars and Stripes for keeping us informed.

Spc. Peter QuinonesIraq

All servicemembers are heroes

What happened to Pfc. Jessica Lynch in Iraq does not make her a hero. She was a hero long before that. Each and every member of the U.S. armed forces is a hero. All servicemembers became heroes the day they raised their hands and pledged their lives and dedication to our country.

The word hero can be used to describe many different types of people. My younger brother once wrote a paper about me and said I was his hero. Now I proudly display a stein in my home that reads “My Brother, My Hero … USMC.” Are we both heroes? Maybe we are in different ways.

I’m four months pregnant with our first child. My Army husband has recently been deployed to Iraq. He’s a chaplain’s assistant. The job means spending a lot of time helping other soldiers deal with family separations or other problems. I imagine that can’t be easy when he has to wonder how old our baby will be before he can make it home. Is he a hero? I have no doubt about that.

Serving our country is a thankless job. The living conditions and pay are not up to par, and the duty hours and family separations are taxing to say the least. Yet these men and women endure the hardships. They endure them because they have vowed to put their country first, a country for which they’d sacrifice their lives without a thought of themselves. I think that makes a hero, hands down.

My husband is my personal hero, as is my brother. I’m surrounded with heroes every day. Please don’t shortchange the sacrifices that these men and women make. They should be treated with respect, because it’s only because of our military — our heroes — that we’re the country that we are today.

Rachel MullisBaumholder, Germany

May 20

Mail to Iraq too slow ...

My fiancé is in Iraq, and I’ve been writing him every other day to ensure that he receives a letter from me every other day. But this is not the case. He calls me when he can, and the first thing he asks is why I haven’t been writing to him more often. I tell him that I have. He said that the letter he received on May 12 was a letter I’d written on April 10. My fiancé has received only two of the six packages I’ve sent him. The last one was sent on March 31, which means that they’ve lost the last four packages I’ve sent him.

I’ve gone to three different post offices in the 98th Area Support Group in Germany, and they all told me that it takes up to four days for letters to get to Kuwait City. Then it takes another five to 10 days for the soldiers to receive them, and another 10 days for packages. This is a lie. I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to, so something needs to be done about it. There should be no excuse for our soldiers having a hard time receiving mail and their loved ones getting mail. It’s taking just as long for us to get mail too.

How is our soldiers’ morale supposed to remain high when it’s taking so long for them to get simple letters? It’s bad enough that we can only receive a phone call every so often, if that much. Mail needs to be one of the top priorities for soldiers’ morale and well-being. Apparently it’s not.

Spc. Chiloquin BellGiebelstadt, Germany

... and doesn't follow troops

We are finally receiving mail from my son, who was deployed to Iraq in January from Camp Pendleton, Calif. The mail we received last week (May 11 and 15) was dated April 13, April 15 and April 16, respectively. That is four weeks to deliver a regular envelope. On April 13 he wrote that he had just received my package sent Feb. 14. That is an eight-week delivery time. The box was relatively small. That is too much time for mail to be delivered. I used the address provided by the postal clerk at Camp Pendleton, who I personally called.

The biggest problem was that while he was still on a ship en route to Kuwait, I sent him a birthday card and a separate package. At that time all we had was his ship address. By the time the package arrived on board the ship, he had disembarked in Kuwait. About three months later the card and the package showed up on my doorstep. The military could not even forward the mail to a person they had dropped off in Kuwait.

Surely the Marines can locate where they have just sent a Marine, can’t they? Why can mail not be forwarded? My son celebrated his 21st birthday on March 17, just days before the start of the war, alone in a sandy tent with no birthday wish from his family. The card and package were mailed eight weeks prior to his birthday. This is not service. It is not only cruel, but also expensive to have families mailing packages that cost a fortune to mail only to have them returned undelivered because the military cannot figure out where they let off a Marine. I am sure the individuals who work to get the mail to the troops are doing the best they can. The problem obviously lies within the system itself.

Dianne BolzeniusHouston

Right route victim of red tape

In recent weeks Stars and Stripes has printed stories and letters that exposed flaws in the mail system for those of us serving in the Persian Gulf region. But the stories themselves were flawed. For some reason, reporters have been trained to accept only invitations to speak with those who claim to hold leadership over their topic of choice. But those who hold unseen, unheard and altogether unnoticed roles tend to know more about the mail system problems than those in leadership positions. If the “leaders” do know the problems, they don’t report them because they’re in the spotlight and should be held accountable for those problems. If one is politicking for a full bird or another star, why would he expose all of the flaws with the system he’s created?

The major problem concerning forwardly detached units that do not receive mail lies with the camp at which each unit is located. On a recent escort trip to post offices at Camp Dogwood and Camp Elm in Iraq, there were numerous connexes on the ground that contained unworked mail. Those camps receive more mail from the Joint Military Mail Terminal in Kuwait on a daily basis. Placing blame on the soldiers currently stationed at the JMMT is ludicrous.

That’s not to say that the JMMT is not to blame for some of the problems. On a recent evening as I walked through the container yard, I noticed that 30 retrograde connexes were on the ground. For those who may not know, retro mail is mail that was sent from a camp to either mail back overseas or to be rerouted to a unit that has moved forward. Some of this mail has been dated April 28. I’m writing this on May 4. The mail in some of those containers is 6 days old.

Add that six days to the 14 days required to get mail from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, three days of waiting in the yard at JMMT before it was sent to a camp, and one day for the camp to get it back to JMMT for rerouting. Then it finally lands at the correct camp. (Hopefully it’s the correct camp.) It then has another waiting period at the camp, most likely behind 20 other full connexes of mail.

In short, the leadership at JMMT places little or no importance on retrograde mail, which is most likely the oldest mail in our yard. Of course there are other problems with the JMMT and the mail system on the whole. It would be just as futile to list those problems as it was to list the aforementioned problems. Nothing runs smoothly in the U.S. military. Nothing changes in the U.S. military. Correcting a problem consists of adding a new idea into the flawed ideas initiated before the new idea. Ignoring an old idea, or changing that idea, is not an option. Remember that nine bad ideas and one good idea usually don’t lead to an efficient operation. Also remember that a failure in leadership usually results in a failure to execute.

Spc. Robert N. BluejacketKuwait

May 21

Emergency support

Most soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines know the old saying, “You are your own best career manager.” After my recent emergency leave experience, we should add the job of travel agent. I was notified of the death of my father-in-law on May 2 and received a confirmation Red Cross message late that evening. I then contacted the SATO emergency representative to arrange for funded airline tickets for the earliest departure on May 3. The representative informed me that the emergency funding allocation had a ceiling of $650 per family member (total amount of $1,950) to support round-trip travel from Stuttgart, Germany, to Philadelphia, Pa.

The SATO representative was unable to book flights to Philadelphia and still stay within the $650 ceiling. She was able to book flights to Boston, but I’d then have to pay approximately $2,000 for my family to travel from Boston to Philadelphia. Would a young servicemember with a family be able to spend that amount of money? Had I been stationed in the Frankfurt area, she might have been able to help me since the ceiling there is higher. I informed her that I had found round-trip airfare on for $817, and while that amount exceeded the $650 ceiling, I’d pay the $167 difference. Unfortunately, she informed me that SATO’s policies don’t allow her access to ordinary leave fares under emergency conditions.

My only recourse was to arrange the travel myself. After reserving round-trip tickets from Stuttgart to Philadelphia, I then traveled by train to the SATO office at the Frankfurt airport to pick up the tickets. The round-trip tickets cost me $1,321.80, which was $639 below my allocated ceiling. (I have submitted a travel voucher to receive reimbursement.) We departed Stuttgart early on May 3. I can only imagine a young servicemember having to undergo this type of ordeal.

For providing travel support in the event of an emergency, this travel system fails to meet the standard of quality of life service for servicemembers and their families serving outside the United States. As a result, servicemembers are left to fend for themselves. As a senior officer, I was able to meet my family’s needs. Sadly, there are thousands of servicemembers serving outside the United States who would suffer by either not returning home or who would have to spend additional funds in order to reach their required destination. Is this the best quality of life support we can offer servicemembers in emergencies?

Access to the same airfares for emergencies as those offered to servicemembers in ordinary travel status would not only ensure we are providing the best support to servicemembers and their families in emergencies, but would also save the government significant dollars. The standard of support we provide to ensure servicemembers and families the requisite “quality of life” is ultimately evaluated by the quality of support we provide to them in death or other emergency situations.

Michael GrayStuttgart, Germany

Thanks to commander

I’d like to send a big thanks out to our rear detachment commander, Capt. Chris Welch. He’s doing an amazing job and working nonstop to make our lives a little better while our husbands are deployed.

I also want to thank Capt. Welch’s wife, Cathy, for her patience and understanding during this time. The sacrifices her husband is making for us are greatly appreciated.

I urge Capt. Welch and the whole rear detachment team to keep up the good work. The wives of all the soldiers in the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry who are downrange are being taken care of. Once again, I thank them for their hard work.

Christina LoyBüdingen, Germany

Era for exclusion has passed

What’s up with all the controversy surrounding Annika Sorenstam playing against men in this week’s Colonial Invitational PGA tournament? Vijay Singh’s comment that Ms. Sorenstam doesn’t belong playing a men’s tournament is ridiculous. I bet she could hit a golf ball farther than some his counterparts. She averages 280 yards off the tee!

These PGA tour guys need to join the real world of amateur Sunday golf. They need pull up on a Sunday morning with no tee time and join a threesome and see who’s actually out there playing the game of golf these days. I’ve had women in my foursome play from the men’s tees these days and score well. Heck, people all races and sexes, young and old, are teeing it up everywhere. Golf is a game, not a sport. Vijay Singh should get off his high horse and let her play; we’re all anxious to find out just how Ms. Sorenstam will do.

Tom DugganOsan Air Base, South Korea

May 22

Reserve/National Guard

I’m responding to the letter “Finishing off the enemy” (May 13). The writer angered me because he implied that reservists and National Guardsmen are just sitting at home raking in Uncle Sam’s money while he’s sweating in the desert. I’m a reservist deployed to northern Iraq. My unit and I have grown increasingly frustrated by the fact that we’ve been treated like stepchildren by our active-duty components since our deployment on Jan. 21. The writer’s attitude reflects those of many of his active-duty colleagues.

Active-duty GIs made the choice to be active duty. No one forced them to sign their contracts or told them, “No, you can’t join the Reserves or National Guard.” My colleagues and I decided to serve part time, but we’re always GIs. When the time came, we put on our uniforms and bid our families and jobs goodbye, the same as active-duty GIs. It goes without saying that most of us would rather be at home, making more money than we do now. But we’re in the sandbox with everyone else.

Just because I’m a reservist in a supporting unit doesn’t make me an undisciplined soldier. I’ve seen the “decidedly less disciplined” side of active-duty infantry and engineers as well. One of our convoys got stoned near Tikrit while stopped on the side of the road waiting for the engineers to tear down a statue of Saddam Hussein that they never should’ve been tearing down. They took it upon themselves to be “cowboys,” putting our convoy in danger while their bulldozer blocked the road. And that’s not to mention the numerous statues and paintings riddled with bullet holes, most likely compliments of our active-duty infantry components. Discipline is not determined simply by what branch of the military a servicemember belongs to. It’s determined by leadership.

Being deployed is anything but enjoyable, but I’m sure the writer and his colleagues would be rather unhappy without the Reserve and National Guard. After all, many of the fuel, water, transportation, postal, medical and legal units come from us. So imagine not getting mail for the duration of the deployment, not having fuel or medical support, or no one to deliver food and water. It’s also interesting to note that the infantry that the letter writer is so proud of began with the National Guard. My unit and I would be more than happy to return to the U.S. and leave the active-duty guys scratching for fuel in the desert.

I challenge the writer to step up to the plate. No one forced him to take a leadership position in the active-duty infantry. He should stop whining and deal with it.

We don’t ask for much, just to be treated the same as our active-duty components. We all wear the same uniform. We should be treated the same — no better, no worse.

Staff Sgt. Jennifer GieseTikrit, Iraq

Career advancement

I and a great number of my fellow promotable E-4s and E-5s are being treated very unfairly while deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. A large group of us were pulled from career advancement courses weeks or even days prior to graduation, denying us valuable points that could have made our promotions. Soldiers who did not deploy graduated and got their points. They’re now at home with their families and continuing their educations, adding more points to get promoted.

This hurts us in two ways. First, their promotions fill empty slots, which means the points for promotion will continue to rise while we are here in Iraq, with no way to make or add points ourselves. Second, being promoted before us gives them time in grade. That allows them a head start toward promotion to the next level and makes them our superiors. They’ll always outrank us, most without a day of combat during the course of their entire military careers. So what good is combat experience?

Sgt. Robert L. FryeIraq

Gas price differences

When one buys gas at AAFES in Hanau, Germany, it costs 50.4 cents a liter. When one puts gas in a nonappropriated funds vehicle at fuel points, it costs 26 cents a liter. NAF must be self-supporting and pay its own way. What’s the difference?

David CarterHanau, Germany

Stereotypes don't befit tattoos

In her May 12 letter “Tattoos article a waste of ink” Kathi Bertsch showed the exact closed-minded “me” syndrome shared by censors and puritans alike. If this article offended Ms. Bertsch so much, she did not have to read it.

To call tattoos mutilation is to go against the histories of many cultures, where tattoos and body markings were a coming-of-age or social status.

No one has ever said someone must get a tattoo, and those of us who carry them with pride take offense at people jeering us for them. I do not agree with what many people do get, but that is their preference and their right.

Ms. Bertsch stated that when professionals get tattoos, the stigmata will be gone. To this I say, come see me next year when I become a science teacher.

About the health standards: A little investigation will show that, in the United States, a licensed parlor is better inspected and better kept than most doctors’ and dentists’ offices. When getting a tattoo, it is not wise to walk in to any shop and get one on the spur of the moment; it’s better to shop for cleanliness, history, price and quality — after the decision is well thought over. Care should be given to placement as well as style and how it may affect your life in various ways.

The tattoo parlors of yesteryear are no more — welcome to regulation and health code standards.

On to this magnetic resonance imaging issue: I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease of the spine, and went through a lengthy MRI. I have a full back tattoo with much brown and black, a very beautiful bird of paradise sitting on a branch. During this MRI there was no burning, no pulling, no separation of the skin. Where this idea came from I have no clue, but as that I have met the conditions to this claim I will say it is completely false.

In summation, I allow Ms. Bertsch her opinion and allow her to disagree with body art, but she shouldn’t spread falsehoods to attempt to win others to her side. Freedom of speech is a longstanding right, as well as freedom of the press; if one doesn’t wish to read an article than, by all means, throw it away, but don’t attempt to demean others with terms such as “body mutilation” or labels such as “this group.”

Finally, before Ms. Bertsch speaks out against an article, she should try to research it as well as the original article was researched. Hopefully this enlightened others to the falsehoods in Ms. Bertsch’s rebuttal.

Robert FillingerCamp Castle, South Korea

May 23

Downrange mail

When I read the letter “Iraq mail too slow” (May 17), I thought I’d written it myself. I’d just really like to know where the mail priorities are. My husband has been downrange since February, and I haven’t figured out any way or rule on how stuff gets to him. I usually send him more than one box. So thinking logically, two boxes mailed on the same day should get to him on the same day. But no. Two boxes mailed the exact same day don’t get to him on the exact same day. Actually, sometimes one box takes up to four weeks longer to get to him. No matter how I think about it, I just can’t come up with any answer about how this can happen.

Mail should be such an important thing because it’s the one and only moral support these guys get during these days. And not to mention that the guys need some supplies to stay clean and healthy, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, medication, and so on. They can’t get these supplies themselves, so at least it should be possible to provide them quicker with our mail, which includes the stuff they need.

How can it be that I get three letters on May 15, two of them postmarked April 26 and one of them postmarked April 1? I don’t think I have to mention that I got a bunch of letters my husband wrote after April 1 in between. Could someone please explain that to me?

I know they’re in a combat zone, and I’m sure there is a lot more “important” Army stuff that needs to get taken care of. But maybe the people in charge should think about where and how their soldiers would be without moral support from home. I also think the important, higher-up people love to receive mail, too.

Tanja PackDarmstadt, Germany

Pulse magazine

As a longtime reader of Stars and Stripes, I’m somewhat agitated by the recurring content of Pulse magazine. Almost weekly, Pulse carries questionable articles and photos celebrating mature themes such as prostitution, models who work for adult magazines, sexually-oriented museums, women’s lingerie, etc. While I understand my responsibility to screen the articles put before my children, this shouldn’t be necessary in a newspaper authorized by the Department of Defense.

While some may disagree, I believe this type of reporting degrades women, celebrates a promiscuous lifestyle incompatible with the military’s family values, and would result in complaint if these articles were displayed in the workplace. The time has come to end sensational reporting, raising the value of Stars and Stripes to the entire military community and their families.

Maj. Jeffrey BryanRamstein Air Base, Germany

May 24

Great soldier

I feel compelled to tell readers about a great soldier, Sgt. Anthony Lopez. He was stationed in Hohenfels, Germany, and purchased a brand new Harley-Davidson that he’d been dreaming of for 20 years. Anthony was an experienced rider who shared his passion for motorcycles with his father. In fact, Anthony would talk nearly every night to his father in Chicago about where they’d been riding and where they’d go next. Unfortunately, Anthony only had two glorious weeks with his shiny new toy. Regrettably, we lost our soldier to that shiny new toy recently, and we’ll never be the same.

It was my great pleasure to have had Anthony as my friend. He was straightforward. One never had to mince words with him. We’d just tell it like it was. That’s how he wanted it. That’s what I’m doing in this letter: telling it like he was.

Anthony was the husband of my best friend and the father of a beautiful 5-year-old girl. Our first encounter with the Lopez family was the beginning of an incredible journey, a kinship between two families. From the time we met, not once was there a moment’s doubt about the friendship. There wasn’t a single snag along the way, not even a slight misunderstanding. We were friends, and that was that. Nothing came between the Lopez family and the Wright family. It will always be that way, even though one piece of the puzzle is now missing. Anthony would have wanted it that way, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anthony was a great man, a wonderful father and an amazing soldier. He was a husband first, a father second and a soldier all the way. He was intelligent, brave, thorough, and kind. He will be missed significantly. The Anthony we knew had such a free spirit. He loved to play, laugh and win. Yes, he loved to win. He was so funny.

A person could tell how much Anthony cared for him or her by the amount of razzing he gave that person. If Anthony wasn’t giving a person a hard time, then that person wasn’t his friend. We loved every goofy thing that Anthony said and did. I can’t imagine him being gone, and I know that there are a great number of people today who will not be the same without him. Good night our dear friend, and sweet dreams.

Ronni M. WrightHohenfels, Germany

School bomb threats

My name is Alex Steele. I’m a 10th grade student at Gen. H.H. Arnold High School in Wiesbaden, Germany. On May 7, a bomb threat was called into my high school. It was the third threat this school year.

Calling in bomb threats is juvenile and childish. When the school gets a bomb threat, the entire school population is forced to evacuate. Everyone is searched like criminals, people are scared and it throws the entire day into chaos. Then the military police have to break away from their schedules to check the school to make sure that everyone is all right.

With all these idle threats being called in, people may begin to get complacent and not take them seriously. This is a problem, because if someone calls a threat into the school and actually does have a bomb, it may be too late to save some people.

If a perpetrator is caught, that person could be sent back to the United States and receive further disciplinary action. Why would anyone want to risk so much for a stupid prank that could bring nothing but trouble? We all need to act with more maturity to avoid unnecessary stress that nobody needs in our current world situation.

Alex SteeleOber-Ramstadt/Modau, Germany

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