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December 30

Both had the write stuff

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

December 30 Both had the write stuffDecember 31 Ali shouldn't appear on AFN A twist on the warrior mentalityJanuary 3 U.S. not needed in S. Korea Caught in stop-loss shuffleJanuary 4 Spouses know what to expect Thanks for praising the team

Once again, the Beatles make headlines through petty controversy and outright absurdity. It appears Sir Paul McCartney is not content with the “Lennon-McCartney” writing credits to songs written during his days as a Beatle. He would prefer “Paul McCartney and John Lennon.” As Beatles, both Lennon and McCartney wrote memorable songs that survived the test of time. No matter what Sir Paul claims, Lennon and McCartney will always be fondly remembered as one of pop music’s most influential and successful songwriting partnerships.

It is rather ironic that now — after the deaths of his bandmates, George Harrison and John Lennon — McCartney wants to be remembered as “a Beatle.” As I recall, immediately after the Beatles went their separate ways, McCartney did everything humanly possible to distance himself from his Beatles past.

Naturally, money is at the core of this recent hullabaloo. Sir Paul even stated that Yoko Ono (Lennon’s widow) made more money from the song “Yesterday” than he did. However, anyone who is familiar with music knows that McCartney composed “Yesterday.” Additionally, if McCartney is so concerned about losing money, then maybe he should hire the people who manage Yoko’s finances. As one of the richest men alive today, McCartney’s concern about the payment of royalties only weakens his argument to the point of being rather trivial and utterly asinine.

Each member of a famous songwriting partnership is equally remembered for his artistic abilities and distinct contributions. Consider the following well-known examples of famous songwriters: Boyce and Hart, Leiber and Stoller, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Holland, Dozier and Holland. Lennon and McCartney are part of a songwriting legacy that transcends time. Just like it is hard to imagine anyone bickering about the individual contributions that each member of the previously mentioned musical teams made to the lyrics they wrote or the melodies they composed, the same holds true for the Lennon-McCartney duo.

Beatles fans have some “words of wisdom” to offer Sir Paul McCartney: “Let It Be.” Let the credits remain “Lennon-McCartney.”

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John Di GenioYongsan Garrison, South Korea

December 31

Ali shouldn't appear on AFN

I usually find the “To The Troops” segments shown during American Forces Network television commercial breaks to be a refreshing change of pace. Seeing stars such as Heidi Klum and Joe Theismann wish those in the military well is slightly more entertaining than some stiff reporter giving us another “Two-Minute Report” featuring Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaking to snoozing reporters. But I was shocked and disgusted at the sight of Muhammad Ali during a recent “To The Troops” segment.

For those too young to remember or who have simply chosen to ride the current wave of Ali deification, the former Cassius Clay used his fame and was used by Muslim activists in the 1960s to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. If readers want to defend Ali’s actions, that’s up to them. But it makes me ill to see tax-funded programming watched and supported by veterans that further develops the myth of Ali’s sainthood.

I hurt for all the less fortunate people who had no choice but to fight and die in Vietnam. Many came back maimed and missing limbs or eyes. And what was their welcome at airports? Spittle from the mouths of those who would deceptively claim Ali as a hero and martyr of the system.

I’m profoundly disturbed at the unbelievable insensitivity of those who make AFN programming decisions. Hopefully someone who was in Vietnam and still serves in the U.S. military has enough rank or influence on those responsible to make this stop at once. Our veterans and current soldiers deserve better than to see Ali disingenuously wishing current servicemembers well. AFN should not under any circumstances be a forum for any type of promotion of this offensive individual.

Spc. Lee RichardsonBaumholder, Germany

A twist on the warrior mentality

It’s 4 a.m. and the phone rings. The soldier answers and listens to the orders. The soldier’s been called to duty for the next 120-plus days. The GI rises to the occasion and prepares to embark to battle. For the wife, the battle’s just begun.

The wife — the loving warrior, the backbone of the family — now takes command of the home front as the GI passes through the threshold and proceeds to battle.

This warrior is unique. She’s brave and courageous. She assumes all the responsibilities the GI’s left behind. The responsibilities and tasks are endless. The battle on the home front now begins, and the warrior assumes both parental roles. The kids rise and find that their father, the soldier, has departed once again. The warrior now begins to heal the children’s broken hearts along with any other bumps and bruises that may come from little accidents.

The warrior is challenged in planning and preparing the next strategic move for daily meals and coordinating the movement of the little troopers going to school. When the little troopers are in school, the warrior commences with job-related duties. The warrior’s profession contributes to help support the home front.

Each day the warrior grapples with many exhausting tasks. Yet she keeps marching. As the day ends, the warrior and the little troopers are back on the home front. The warrior’s now more exhausted. But she isn’t finished and must overcome this mental and physical state.

Once again the warrior is tasked to ensure the troopers’ meals are prepared, and she tends to every little need. The warrior is challenged in manhandling the everyday maintenance of the home and must keep everything functional. She ensures that the autos are maintained for urgent deployment in case of an emergency.

At the daily mail call the warrior receives the monthly bills. The warrior’s accounting skills are now implemented. She maintains the budget and endorses each check.

The day’s now ended. The troopers are in their bunks. The warrior prays that her GI is safe and doing fine. She sleeps restlessly and keeps her guard up for the safety of their home and the little troopers.

As each new day arrives, the warrior’s daily routine is much the same. She stays aggressive. The home front needs to be maintained until her GI returns.

The military wife grapples with everyday struggles. She is committed to playing a role in the battle. When the battle is over, the soldier receives medals for heroism. The military wife — the warrior, the unsung hero — receives her returning soldier. The warrior, burdened with so many responsibilities, receives no medals for her heroic acts. In the end, if a medal for bravery, commitment and dedication existed, she’d be decorated like the soldier.

The warrior is the backbone in maintaining all facets of life while supporting the GI’s journey into battle. I thank all the military wives who support their GIs. Most of all, I thank my wonderful wife — who’s been supportive during the most trying times.

Tech Sgt. Michale D. MedinaRamstein Air Base, Germany

January 3

U.S. not needed in S. Korea

Why are we still in Korea 49 years after the war? The vocal Korean majority obviously doesn’t want us there and sees us as a detriment to reunification.

I served five and a half years in South Korea before I left in 1992. My mother’s Korean, and I married a Korean woman. I have many relatives in South Korea. I’m not anti-Korean, but I don’t believe we are needed there anymore. The Koreans seem fed up with our presence, and I imagine most of the U.S. troops serving there would rather serve elsewhere.

The soldiers involved in the teen girls’ deaths should’ve been, in my opinion, held accountable for their actions. The release of the soldiers, “scot-free,” didn’t help the situation. While I was in the Army, leaders were responsible for the actions of their troops and themselves.

I don’t think the Army held these two sergeants accountable. They were in control of their vehicle and responsible for the operation of it. I can understand why the Koreans are upset with the results of the courts-martial.

South Korea is a vibrant, successful democracy with a lot of influence in the world. South Korea can stand on its own now against its brethren in the North. The U.S. military will be needed elsewhere soon enough, and we don’t need to take a bunch of verbal garbage from the South Korean minority, when the South Korean majority won’t stand up in our defense to say they want us there. It’s hard enough to serve in South Korea without CS gas drifting on post and seeing mad students trooping captured soldiers around for propaganda pictures.

Philip N. ChessmanConcord, N.H.

Caught in stop-loss shuffle

Most people think they’re free, but are they really? This question has been running through my head since my husband was involuntarily extended in the U.S. Army. How can a person be involuntarily extended when he enlisted in a volunteer Army?

Six years ago my husband, Dennis, joined the military to help pay off student loans. Now it’s six years later. My husband was supposed to get out of the Army this month. I left Germany over the summer with our children, ages 3 and 8, so my daughter could start school and I could get a job. We had been stationed in Germany for three years. I got a great job and enrolled my daughter in school.

On Feb. 22 the Army enacted stop loss, which affected my husband’s job. The Navy, Marines and Air Force lifted their respective stop-loss measures over the summer. My husband and I honestly thought the Army would lift its stop loss soon after. But that didn’t happen.

So now I’m in Flower Mound, Texas, with my children. We’re living with my parents because I can’t afford a home with Dennis using his housing allowance to live in Germany. My husband received orders this month transferring him to Fort Hood, Texas. This is not an ideal situation. But since Fort Hood is near Flower Mound (three hours away), it’s better than the current situation. The downside, of course, is that Fort Hood is a rapid-deployment base. So if we go to war, that base goes to war first.

The stop-loss rule doesn’t sound ethical or legal. The Army is all-volunteer, yet it has the right to extend my husband involuntarily in a time of peace because of what might happen in the future? My husband is no longer a volunteer. He is an indentured servant. I’ve tried to contact numerous people in the Army all the way up to the Pentagon to receive clarification on these rules. Repeatedly I’ve been told that as a spouse I’m not entitled to any answers. This goes with what the Army has told me for the past six years: “If the Army had wanted your husband to have a wife and family, it would have issued him one.”

If my husband decided to quit at a normal company, he couldn’t be told, “No, you can’t quit because we don’t have someone who can do your job.” We would laugh at the thought. So why is it that the Army can say, “Yes, you’ve completed the amount of time on your contract, but we aren’t going to let you out”? Why are soldiers not told that this is a possibility when they enlist? I was with my husband six years ago when he enlisted, and this was never mentioned as even a remote possibility.

This is destroying our family. My husband is in Germany by himself. My children and I are depressed here in Texas. This could go on indefinitely. I’ve been told my husband should be released in January 2004, unless the United States declares a war. In that case he could be indefinitely extended. Under today’s circumstances, I have to believe a war is a distinct possibility.

I believe my husband has served his promised time with honor and dignity. He has given 100 percent to the Army. But now it’s time to let him out. He deserves to start the life that we intended when we intended.

Elyce M. FranksFlower Mound, Texas

January 4

Spouses know what to expect

In reference to Cheryl Curley’s Dec. 28 response (“Military spouses also sacrifice”) to Senior Master Sgt. David E. McGuire’s Dec. 24 letter (“Divorce us from ex-spouses act”) on divorce and retirement sharing: Madam, you could not be any farther from the truth. It’s all about planning.

Ms. Curley said a military spouse puts her career on hold: Why? And if so, don’t you think one should have thought of this before marrying a servicemember?

Why not plan for the future? Many spouses go to school or get job-preference employment instead of sitting on the couch or hanging around stores. In doing so, the spouse raises his or her level of education at partial military expense (which the military member may never have time to do) for future careers. Or they could get their foot in the door to jobs they may never have had a chance to get unless their spouse was in the military.

Yongsan Army Community Service, for example, has an excellent spousal preference program; officials go to great lengths to insure you’re successfully placed and even hand-tailor résumés.

Ms. Curley commented that when it is time to PCS, the spouse has to quit her job and basically start from the bottom. Again, she’s wrong.

Why not transfer? The military gives you enough of a heads-up to prepare for such transfers. A perfect example is the Defense Commissary Agency. DECA employees can get placed almost anywhere in the world a servicemember is assigned. Again this starts with proper planning.

Ms. Curley also wrote: “Day care is expensive.” So this is the fault of the military or the spouse? This was a dual choice. Ms. Curley knew what she were getting into when she decided to have children; hence the brunt of the responsibility is on the nonworking member. She makes it sound as if the only result is: “Oh well, I’m pregnant. There goes my future.”

Ms. Curley neglected to use the word spouse and used the pronouns “her” and “she” in her letter. This leads me to believe that she feels women are unjustly sacrificed at the hands of military members’ careers. Now this has gone from a joint issue to one of unfair treatment of women.

Finally she writes that the military spouse puts her (again a gender relation) financial security on the back burner. Why? If the spouse is at home all day making all these sacrifices, then she/he has access to the bank account, and therefore should be saving for the future, correct? In my marriage, I insured my wife went to school, transferred into the same company when we moved, and had stocks and bonds in her name to protect her into the future. This wasn’t done out of necessity; it was done out of responsibility.

In closing, the military member has the hardest job in the world, the spouse the second. Retirement division should be judged in court, not by some knucklehead who has never been in the military.

Is it fair to work on your career while the spouse is in the military? Yes. Is fair to divorce him/her, get half of the retirement and child support, then move on to a great-paying job while the servicemember starts from the bottom, at half retirement, loses loved ones and probably property? No. Sounds like a scam to me.

Don MitchellCamp Howze, South Korea

Thanks for praising the team

I would like to send my warmest regards and appreciation to Tech. Sgt. Michale D. Medina for his Dec. 31 letter “A twist on the warrior mentality.”

On many occasions, I, like thousands of other spouses, have been one of those “home” warriors. As I sat reading his letter, I could not help but become overwhelmed with emotion. I had never seen our duties related so eloquently to those of the active duty military members before. We all have an important role in the security of our country. As we prepare for the unknowns ahead, thank you Tech. Sgt. Medina for taking the time to recognize “us.” May God bless “all warriors” as we embark into the future.

Christine E. DavisCamp Kinser, Okinawa

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