September 8

CPO Indoc is serious business

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

September 8 CPO Indoc is serious business Respect international lawSeptember 9 'Better, taller and stronger' One servicemember, one voteSeptember 10 Wives, girlfriends brave, too

September 12 A tragic day remembered Enough unaccompanied tours Family discrimination A piece of the cake How 9-11 changed a life

September 14 Growing up overseas a joy License policy 'crippling'

Evidently, Joseph Giordono is not a very good newspaper reporter. I would think that a good reporter would check his sources, provide reliable quotes from reliable people, and provide “fact-checked” information.

In his Aug. 27 article “Chief selectees endure ‘Indoc’ before promotion,” Mr. Giordono misstates many facts. First, every chief selectee is advised of the option to “purchase” uniform items via a Navy Exchange-sponsored deferred payment plan. Through this plan, every selectee can defer payment for said uniforms until such time that they receive their new uniform allowance. No selectee was told, ordered or instructed that they had to pay for their new uniforms “on the spot.” Every CNFJ/CFAY tenant selectee was properly advised of his or her payment options.

Second, chief selectees are not treated like a “fraternity’s pledge class.” Chief selectees are challenged, both physically and mentally. They are charged with working together toward a common goal. The goal? Building a cohesive team of professionals who can and will achieve mission success, support Navy and Command mission goals, provide informed counsel to subordinates and seniors, and position their team for optimum success.

Characterizing a group climb of Mount Fuji (with chief petty officers as well as selectees) as a frat’s pledge initiative is an ill-informed opinion.

Third, chief petty officer “Indoc” is not “Hell Week,” as Mr. Giordono editorializes. CPO Indoctrination exemplifies why the position of U.S. Navy chief petty officer is so proud. If Mr. Giordono had done any research, he would have realized (completely) that CPO Indoc is a five-day, classroom-facilitated course of instruction that introduces new chief petty officers to a multitude of important topics, such as:

¶ naval history;¶ uniform regulations;¶ leadership and management;¶ communication skills; and¶ counseling techniques

Finally, Mr. Giordono quotes a “mentor” in his article. I will not dignify the quote in my response. I will only say that this so-called “individual” does not speak for the chief petty officer of the 21st century.

Today’s chief petty officer understands people and assets; supports Command and Navy goals; realizes tactical and strategic objectives; possesses vision and executes. Today’s chief petty officer performs as a manager, mentor, father, mother and shipmate — and is more informed and smarter than ever before. Today’s chief petty officer exemplifies leadership!

I am proud to call myself a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow chief petty officers throughout the world. I am equally proud that I have the honor of welcoming this year’s newest group of outstanding chief petty officers into the most productive, cohesive group of professionals in the military service.

Chief Petty Officer David G. RenwickNaval Security Group ActivityYokosuka, Japan

Respect international law

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched an unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The justification for this sneak attack was “pre-emptive self-defense,” the very same twisted logic used by George W. Bush for his planned attack against Iraq. Japan had become very arrogant after its many military successes in Asia and felt it was above any international law.

America in 2002 has the same level of arrogance and has even rejected the world war crimes tribunal because Americans now feel they can do whatever they want. Might makes right and only Jews and Christians matter to Washington military planners.

Under international law it is clearly illegal to attack another country unless you are attacked first. Iraq has never attacked the United States and was so polite it even asked the permission of the USA before it attacked Kuwait in its past bid to regain that territory. Iraq thought it had our permission to invade Kuwait, a mistake that cost the career of a now-infamous empty-headed American diplomat stationed in Baghdad. Iraq has never been a supporter of worldwide terrorism and there is no reason to believe that Iraq would ever attack the USA with nuclear weapons.

America goes wrong when America breaks international law. International law says that Israel should return to the borders it had before it launched the 1967 surprise attack on Egypt, destroying Egypt’s air force on the ground. Nothing good came from the 1967 war and nothing good will come from Bush’s new war on the Iraqi people, who have suffered unjustly for many years under American economic sanctions. If Americans stood up for Palestinian rights, instead of standing up for Israel’s illegal occupation of land Israel stole, then “terrorism” would subside and Americans would have a foreign policy they could be proud of.

Christopher CalderEugene, Ore.

September 9

'Better, taller and stronger'

I’m a military spouse stationed overseas. Sept. 11, 2001, made a huge hole in all our hearts, as I know it did to the victims and their families. When I saw the news on American Forces Network, tears poured down with disbelief and anger, saying, “Not my America!”

We are originally from Illinois, and before Sept. 11 we would think of New York in a vague way. But when it was hit, it was “Our New York!”

I’m not an architect or a painter, but I have a vision to fill that open sore and space where the Twin Towers were. It is two towers joined in the middle by a tall pillar of marble. It would be a pillar that would go up past the towers and would have a giant clock that would move forward. It would also chime the hour that the cowards plowed into our towers, lives and hearts to test our freedom.

Let’s cry out on all the anniversaries of the attacks and scream out to all who will see how unjustified, cowardly and murderous these actions were.

The clock would be a healing blue and lit at all times. The outside of the pillar would have all the names of those murdered on Sept. 11, 2001. They’d be carved in stone. At the base of the pillar would be the words “United we stand,” and, of course, the date that is burned in all our hearts, Sept. 11, 2001. The victims’ families would want to see the names of their loved ones, so how about a glass elevator on the outside of the pillar that would pass each and every name?

This time, the towers themselves would be built one floor higher than before to show the terrorists that what they break down we together will build up better, taller and stronger than before.

The outside of the towers would have long, horizontal, shimmering panels that reflected clouds, trees and life. Inside there would be, of course, many open spaces, plants and healing colors of pale blues, lavenders, greens and lots of sunlight. It would also be very nice to have the towers highlighted with blue lights on the ground. A soothing blue.

A building is just a building, not life. But the life it contains is priceless. It is what America built and will build again, and it will say to all of us that we shall never forget. Two towers, united together forever.

Pamelia S. GastonAviano, Italy

One servicemember, one vote

Once again it will soon be time to vote. This is the chance for military members to choose those in their local, state or federal “chain of command.” Choosing a member of the legislative branch in the Senate or House of Representatives can be just as critical as voting for president. Servicemembers’ votes have an immediate effect upon the policies and plans of our country. Servicemembers should be registering to vote and/or applying for their absentee ballots. The 2000 presidential election proved that every vote does count.

Commanders or others in leadership positions should be pushing this issue as hard as they push for cooperation with specific unit associations, the Combined Federal Campaign or blood drives. Those who wish to vote should see their unit’s voting representative or go to for details. The voting process is getting progressively easier to do by mail and online. There are no valid excuses not to vote.

Regardless if servicemembers prefer to vote for individuals or their favorite “team,” they should get their ballots counted.

Glen S. BartoChief Warrant Officer 2Operation Enduring Freedom

September 10

Wives, girlfriends brave, too

I’m writing to express my sincerest appreciation to all the wonderful men who protect our country. They have taken on a job that most of us aren’t brave enough to handle. Thanks. But I do want to let them know that the Marines aren’t the only ones who are brave. A lot of them have girlfriends and wives back home. And their jobs, while they may not be life-threatening, are just as difficult. I know this for a fact, because I’m one of them. In the most romantic sense of the word, I belong to a Marine. He may not be the most debonair or articulate of men, but I love him nonetheless.

At night when I lay down, I wish with all my heart for nothing more than to be able to feel his arms around me. My dreams reveal to me my deepest fears in startling reality. I tried to watch the movie “Windtalkers” the other day. About 10 minutes into the movie, a Marine was shot on the field. They showed his helmet rolling away with a picture of his girl in it. I couldn’t help but wonder if someday somebody would find a helmet with my picture. I turned the movie off. I couldn’t stand to watch any more. A lot of the movie may have been a massive fabrication to make Nicolas Cage a bigger hero, but it was too real for me.

Every day, the news tells about more and more problems in the Middle East and how President Bush is trying to control the situation. But there are still servicemembers being caught in the line of fire and killed senselessly. My Marine is still in school and stationed safely stateside. But his classes are done in November, and he will eventually be sent overseas for at least six months. And I’m expected to “sit here and keep the home fires burning.” How? How am I supposed to handle my home and family when the man I love is God knows where doing God knows what to protect his country? There will be sleepless nights. I could be going days, weeks or even months without a word of comfort. Now don’t get me wrong. I thank God every day that there are men willing to risk their lives doing what they do. And I’m supremely proud that I have one of those men to call my own. But it’s a difficult life to lead. I pray that every man who has a woman at home lets her know that he loves her and appreciates her. He won’t know how valuable she is until he tries to replace her. These men’s girls are strong and stubborn. We have to be to deal with them. But we will not be taken for granted. If they love us, tell us. If they want us forever, marry us. If they think they’ve found something better, let us go. Believe me, we don’t have the time or patience for games. If their girls need a little reassurance (and we all do from time to time), give them some.

If any soldiers happen to read this, please pass it on to a friend who may have a girl back home. Even the smartest of men don’t always know what it is exactly that they’re leaving behind. Hopefully, this will make them realize it.

Paula CorleyCleveland, Texas

September 12

A Tragic day remembered

I was stationed in Washington when our country was so brutally attacked one year ago. I had visited the Pentagon on numerous occasions, since I was stationed with the 12th Aviation Battalion, which provided helicopter transportation for our country’s senior leadership. Among those leaders whom I had flown was Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, the deputy chief of operations and plans, and many of his office members. Maude’s office was the one hit by the plane that attacked the Pentagon, and several members of his office also were killed.

Sgt. Maj. Larry Strickland and Spc. Craig Munson were members of that office, and Strickland lived in my neighborhood. I didn’t know him all that well, other than as a neighbor. Our children occasionally played together. Our wives had talked.

On that tragic day, many of my fellow battalion members were preparing for a normal day at work transporting Army leaders to their many meetings and briefings. Two of my unit members got a front-row view of the hijacked airplane as it approached the Pentagon because they were in the control tower to guide us onto the landing pad. That tower had been completed just four months earlier and was finally operational; if not for that, those controllers would have been in the jet’s path.

The Pentagon’s old control tower was directly in front of the helipad, which was in the path. Also, my unit would have had a couple of helicopters on that pad waiting for VIP pickup. Due to their desire to arrive early and present a professional unit image, that would mean three to six aircrew members would have been there waiting. Fortunately, the pickup point was changed that day because of traffic, and the general wanted to arrive at the briefing early. Those people’s lives were spared that day by the grace of God.

Upon notification of the attacks, my unit’s aircraft were airborne to provide protection to those in peril and to provide cover in case of further attacks. The Air Force has gotten all of the credit with its jets, but the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army had numerous helicopters in the area even before the jets were scrambled. That was because we had trained for a similar type of scenario to evacuate the Washington area and protect our leadership. My unit’s aircraft were part of those assigned to take the leaders to the hidden government area in case of additional attacks.

Since that day, I have thought about what happened. But on that day and for many afterward, I couldn’t think of what happened because we were too busy. We flew many long hours to and from the “ghost” government site as well as to and from the New York area; we each got to see the rubble of both places and the crash sight in Pennsylvania.

I reflect on those days, when I was hoping rescuers would bring my fellow servicemembers out of the ashes to their loved ones. I remember breaking down, falling to my knees and crying when a neighbor brought out Gen. Maude and his guidon, and also upon hearing that my neighbor, Sgt. Maj. Strickland, wasn’t coming home to his young family.

After those horrific acts of terrorism, I saw the local area come to the aid of the victims’ families and of the rescue workers and their families. They gave from their heart and soul. This I know because I carried many of the supplies to the site in a Black Hawk; it was full every time I went in, and I made that run twice a day, every day, for three weeks.

I would like to thank those who gave and keep giving, and to all of those servicemembers who are in harm’s way at this very moment: Keep up the good work and don’t forget your families; they miss you very much and hope you come home safe and sound. If I could trade places with any one of those there so they could go home for a while, I would and I would do it with pride.

I just hope that when the servicemembers do come home, Americans will fill them with the pride that they are there to protect. They must wear the flag with pride, because it represents freedom.

Sgt. T. Richard McKeeLandstuhl, Germany

Enough unaccompanied tours

First we hear they want to cut down on troop size, because we need better technology, not people. They say the military has too many servicemembers. But what is the first thing to go into a troubled country? Soldiers.

Let’s make a brief list: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania, South Korea. These are just the more common places we know about that have unaccompanied tours of six months to more than a year. And if you think about these places, what do you think of? The number of soldiers already away from their families. Of course, that is the sacrifice we make to attain freedom, even if it’s someone else’s freedom.

There were several recent articles in the paper about killings at Fort Bragg, N.C., involving soldiers who had been separated from their families for more than six months while doing duty in Afghanistan. Guess the higher-ups think we need more of that, too.

In addition to deployments, months of field training and rotations also take away our spouses. Adding yet another duty station that is unaccompanied, especially Europe, is crazy. I can understand unaccompanied tours for dangerous places, but not for Europe.

The military says it supports the family unit, but if you take away the soldier’s family, you take away the soldier. But, hey, what’s a little more stress, what’s another deployment? We’re tough, we’re military spouses — we can do anything.

Maybe the Army motto should be, “Be all you can be, but don’t be married.”

Veronica KulkaBaumholder, Germany

Family discrimination

I was appalled by the articles stating that the Army was considering more unaccompanied tours. It would have devastating effects on active-duty mothers and single parents.

It’s one thing to consider a long-term separation from your children in a national crisis and another to count on them routinely as a normal part of your job. Six weeks after having given birth, you could be separated from your newborn for six months to a year!

If the Army is interested in discriminating against stable, family-oriented servicemembers and encouraging only young, single soldiers with a high percentage rate of leaving the service for marriage or pregnancy, then they’re on the right track.

Lt. Col. Joan RubinoMannheim, Germany

A piece of the cake

I have been working with the federal government for almost three years and I think certain laws or policies need amending or scrapping.

My heart really cries out for us lower-level grades (GS-6 and below) when it comes to the sad situation of benefits associated with federal employees overseas. We have to have both upper- and lower-level management, but we cannot all have degrees or doctorates. However, that doesn’t mean one is dumb or unintelligent.

If you look at the economic situation in Europe, am I wrong to say that the lower-level grades need financial assistance like our bosses are receiving? Is it wrong for us to have half, or even a quarter, of their living quarters allowance? We still have to rotate back to the States like them.

We as citizens of the United States are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and our way of life, so why can’t we all have a fair share of the national cake or some of these benefits?

Charles O. YeboahStuttgart, Germany

How 9-11 changed a life

The following was written by a sixth-grader for his world cultures class at Schweinfurt Middle School in Germany. The theme was “How 9-11 Changed My Life.” It was selected by teacher Karen Rose for publication.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a day of great tragedy for the people of the United States of America. When I saw the attack on Sept. 11, I was frozen with disbelief. I just sat there, eyes wide with horror. My mom was sitting next to me, tears streaming down her face. My brother had his jaw dropped with dismay.

Since Sept. 11, I have looked at life in a different way. I don’t take many things for granted anymore. After that tragic day, my mom went out and bought American flags so we could hang them on our balcony and in our rooms. I try not to argue with my mom or my brother. I try to forgive my brother when he does something that makes me angry. I always say please and thank you. I now have to show my ID whenever I go anywhere. I have learned how to be more patient.

I also learned to appreciate my father’s profession as a soldier. When I grow up, I want to go to West Point. I appreciate the guards who protect our military installation and housing areas. I know these guards left their families to serve the country.

I have learned that life is short. We have to roll with the punches and take what life throws at you. The terrorists thought they could break our spirits by attacking our land, but they were wrong. My spirit has just grown stronger. I am more patriotic to my country.

I am proud to be an American.

Dallas Hollin IIISchweinfurt, Germany

September 14

Growing up overseas a joy

I am a 2001 graduate of Lakenheath High School and a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. I read on the Stars and Stripes Web site that the Army is thinking of making European assignments dependents-free. This saddens me greatly.

I loved growing up in Europe. When I went to college, I realized how lucky I was. I realize that the world goes farther than Neyland Stadium on football Saturdays and that people in England do speak English. While attending high school at Lakenheath, I was able to go to the beaches of Normandy when I studied about World War II and make my classroom lessons a reality. After reading “The Diary of Anne Frank,” I went to Amsterdam and saw her home, and was more fully able to understand the conditions in which she lived. I went to the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, and have since developed an even greater respect for victims of the Holocaust. I have seen the big cities: London, Paris and Rome, just to name a few. I have gone to Model United Nations conferences with more than 3,000 other students and made friends with my peers from every nation.

More important than taking home souvenirs from all these places is my understanding of all sorts of people. That is the joy of being a military brat and growing up overseas. Coming to college made me realize that most people don’t have an understanding of any of this and don’t realize that the world is larger than the state of Tennessee.

I understand the security reasons behind making Europe a dependents-free assignment, but I am deeply saddened that my children may not have the opportunities that I did.

Emily BrileyKnoxville, Tenn.

License policy 'crippling'

I am a military spouse stationed overseas. I am one of many who does not have a stateside driver’s license. The policy requiring people to have a stateside license before obtaining a U.S. Army Europe license was changed after I arrived here. This policy is crippling a lot of military families.

When our spouses are sent away for any reason, we have a really hard time getting around. Many of us have children, and we need to be able to drive. I don’t understand why we can’t take a test here to permit us to drive without having to get a German license, which takes several months and costs about 1,300 to 1,500 euro. If you don’t speak German, that makes it even harder.

It is not easy to go back to the States to get a license. Many of us have responsibilities, jobs, school and our children to consider. I really think that this policy should be revised.

Tee SloanHohenfels, Germany

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