Regarding the Nov. 15 article “USAREUR releases helo crash report”: I’m the grieving father of the aircraft commander, and he was responsible for the aircraft and two other young aviators who died on Feb. 3. My initial concerns with the original Stars and Stripes article were overemphasis on three noncontributory factors in the investigation report, then attempting to pass them off as contributory. Furthermore, the article ended with the veiled implication the crew may have been chemically impaired.

You can read the uproar and anguish this has caused family and friends alike in the comments posted below the article on Faced with the well-deserved criticism the paper received, the editors have admitted several outright mistakes and made some grudging corrections to the article while mainly blaming U.S. Army Europe’s public affairs office. My concern is the writer and editors still don’t get it: Getting my son’s rank wrong is not the issue, it just illustrates sloppy work.

What is really interesting is that Howard Witt (the senior managing editor) does not yet get it, just look at his Editor’s Notes blog posting about the original article. Missing the rank is not the issue. Army officials “would not discuss the results of the toxicology report …” is not the issue. Look at the first paragraph in this letter to grasp the issue: dishonest, inaccurate and misleading reporting.

Now there are more concerns. Look at the comments on the Web version of the original article. There is a person repeatedly commenting who calls himself newbie who my family suspects is the writer of the article. We have e-mails from one editor who agrees with us and one who does not. Also, we think another poster using a pseudonym is the pilot lawyer quoted in the original article. We think this is a dishonest, unethical attempt to bolster the original article. You can read the postings comments and decide for yourself.

Gary E. Farwell

Farmington, Ark.

Smith deserves death penalty

I read two articles in your Nov. 11 issue that caught me off guard. In the article about Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs (“Army: NCO took troops down ‘dark path’ ”), it stated that he could possibly face a death sentence for his “war crimes” in which he supposedly killed three Afghan civilians. I do not pretend to know the whole situation, but I find it hard to believe that he may face a death sentence while Staff Sgt. Joshua Adam Smith, who raped three young girls, two of whom were preschool age, will only face a life sentence!

The article titled “Sentence in Smith case far exceeds norm” discusses that some believe his sentence is too harsh according to past cases. Smith should be executed for his crimes. He is obviously a predator of young children and a very sick and disgusting individual. Smith “pleaded guilty to 18 counts of sexual abuse of the girls, ages 3, 4, and 7, including penetration with his penis, finger and a marker.” If that doesn’t scream death penalty, then I don’t know what does.

Whatever comes of the Gibbs case, I hope he does not face a death sentence while we allow a sick individual such as Smith to simply live his life behind confined walls.

Staff Sgt. Jon Shutt

Combat Outpost Zormat, Afghanistan

Helmet a must on that patrol

The photo that accompanied the Nov. 16 Rumor Doctor column (“Infantry roles for women still just a rumor”) leaves me with a couple of questions.

The photo shows two U.S. Army female soldiers patrolling a bazaar in Afghanistan. The male soldier with them is armed and in full vest and helmet, but the females are not wearing their helmets [even though they are armed and in full vest]. They are covering their heads with scarves.

Are our females being required to shun their helmet? If their assignment is so dangerous that they carry a weapon and wear a vest, why are they not wearing a helmet?

Tim Chase

Camp Klecker, Iraq

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