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This is in response to “Smokeless Tobacco is not a heroic image” (letter, July 7): Unfortunately, Staff Sgt. Jared Monti is not available to take a more politically correct photo at this time. If the letter writer had read why his photo was centered on the cover of the 2010 edition of Heroes, she would have learned that he gave his life the day he earned the Medal of Honor defending our freedom — which, as far I know, still includes the freedoms to partake in smokeless tobacco and write pointless drivel to newspapers.

Perhaps the writer should take one more look at the photo of Jared Monti, for that is what a hero looks like.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Yakowenko (retired)

Lompoc, Calif.

Not just any photo

Though in bad taste, one can only hope that the July 7 letter “Smokeless Tobacco is not a heroic image,” reacting to a picture of a soldier chewing tobacco, was meant as a joke. Because this wasn’t any picture of any soldier, and it wasn’t a posed shot or even one taken by Stars and Stripes.

It was a candid photo of a soldier in Afghanistan. That soldier, Staff Sgt. Jared Monti, died in combat attempting to save the life of one of his troops. If he’d known in advance that he was about to die a hero’s death, he might have thought differently about how his image would live on. But that’s not something we should expect Monti — or any other servicemember — to care about.

When you’re concerned about big things like freedom from terrorism, the safety of your country and loved ones, and life and death, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether some stranger back home is going to nitpick your snapshots.

It’s not for me to judge whether the letter writer meant to be funny or just didn’t read the story before hitting the send button on her ill-advised dispatch. Either way, her letter lacks tact, elegance and wisdom.

Matthew Millham

Corinth, N.Y.

Don’t force me to live on post

In regard to the July 7 article “Army tightens housing policies in Europe”: I am a married E-4 with children. I have been in the army less than three years. To force me to live on post near a lot of my fellow soldiers is something I refuse to do.

I choose to serve my country, but I have been in housing in El Paso, Texas, and this was the worst — the parties, the lack of personal care for anything. I have standards regarding where I live and how I live, I mow my yard and take my trash out, and I feel being forced to live next to some of these people in the Army is scary for my children.

I also have seen higher-ranking neighbors take the rank out of hand by trying to get involved in matters that are none of their business.

This is a sad rule. I know I have more experience then most E-5s or E-6s in any foreign place. Rank does not make you a responsible soldier; it is sad some think it does.

Spc. William Woesner

Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq

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