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The word from a soldier just back from Iraq (Awesome Letter to the Editor - San Diego Union Tribune)
San Diego Union Tribune ^ | 12/18/04 | DALE MELVILLE

Posted on 12/18/2004 7:25:08 AM PST by bkwells

The word from a soldier just back from Iraq

I have been in the Army for the last seven years. I have gone through the good and bad times in the military. It is a lifestyle that if you do not live every day, you cannot even come close to understanding.

I have been to Bosnia, Kosovo, and have just returned from Iraq. I can tell you that no one feels the loss of soldiers more than we do.

Even the families do not deal with the emotional pain and stress that we do when we have to pick up the remains of our friends – the same friends that we joked with, lived with, even shared our deepest fears and worries of life with, and in many cases the same friend who saved your life the week before.

I am always concerned with how the Army can be more effective at saving the lives of my fellow soldiers. Armor is not always the answer. In fact, armor can prevent us from being able to do our job. Every pound of armor makes us less effective fighters.

I patrolled the streets of Baghdad in a Humvee that had no doors, let alone armor. This was a decision that I made so that I was a more effective soldier. With better fields of vision, I could respond more effectively to the hazards of a combat zone.

I am an explosive ordnance disposal technician tasked with the removal of the roadside bombs, or IEDs, and unexploded ordnance in Iraq. The IEDs in Iraq often have enough explosives in them that the armor on most trucks proves to be ineffective at close range. Armor is a great asset and improves morale in some cases, but it is not the answer to our problems in Iraq.

There has never been an IED campaign in the history of the world like the one we are living through in Iraq. There is no way the leadership that sent us to war could possibly have known to expect these extreme attacks on its fighting force and the effects on the morale that the Army has suffered during these attacks. What the Army needs is to hunt out and destroy these insurgents, and that, of course, is not an easy task.

Then comes the true kick in the gut. The news media do not report the great things that we have accomplished in this country – the lives we have saved, and freedom that we are providing to a people who do, in fact, want this freedom. Freedom is not won overnight; there are pitfalls that must be overcome, and that takes time.

Instead, the media have decided to attack our morale by attacking our top leadership. There are a lot of things a soldier must deal with in combat; how are we supposed to perform when we have to deal with irrelevant controversy in Washington, D.C., as well?

The truth is that we have excellent leadership that supports us in every mission and provides us top-of-the-line equipment to accomplish our missions. We are at war, and war is not perfect.

I joined the Army because I love my country, a deeper and different love than I think most Americans can understand. I find this same patriotism in the soldiers I work with, even though there are prevalent risks to their lives. They do this because they and I believe in our country. We are soldiers: We adapt and over come all situations. We have been doing it since the birth of our country.

Leave our leadership alone, and we can and will win this war; and frankly, we do not need your selective reporting of how we are doing. We know our mission and objectives; our leadership has and continues to inform us wisely.

DALE MELVILLE Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark. Ramona


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: armor; armorflap; frontline; gwot; personalaccount; soldier; usa
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The news media do not report the great things that we have accomplished in this country – the lives we have saved, and freedom that we are providing to a people who do, in fact, want this freedom. Freedom is not won overnight; there are pitfalls that must be overcome, and that takes time.

Well said!

1 posted on 12/18/2004 7:25:09 AM PST by bkwells
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To: Chevy34; Shooter1430; writer33; snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; Johnny Gage; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Ping!


2 posted on 12/18/2004 7:27:09 AM PST by bkwells (GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!)
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To: bkwells

BUMP!!!


3 posted on 12/18/2004 7:30:32 AM PST by xJones
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To: bkwells

Let me give you guys a brief rundown of what is being faced here...

in terms of IEDs, body armor doesnt cover your lower legs. IEDS are generally on the ground. No help there. You avoid them by being cautious and remembering your training...

in terms of rocket and mortar shells, the body armor generally covers a 1' wide by 2' high area on your torso. in short, it covers your belly button up to your nipples, metal plate wise, but the kevlar goes to teh shoulders and up to the necks. These vests are good at stopping bullets, but with rockets, they would be sending home your belly button and nipples, because you would have no arms legs or head anymore. Gruesome to be sure, but the facts of live.

How do you stay alive in that? remember your training, get down, get into shelters/hardened buildings.

Armor isnt everything. For troops coming up fresh from Kuwait, it looks like everything, but after driving through Baghdad completely unarmored, it isnt the only thing.

I am just a contractor. For the soldiers, a clear field of fire can be just as important as being protected from fire. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.


4 posted on 12/18/2004 7:31:18 AM PST by MikefromOhio (23 days until I can leave Iraq and stop selling hotdogs in Baghdad....and boycotting boycotts)
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To: bkwells

Leave our leadership alone, and we can and will win this war; and frankly, we do not need your selective reporting of how we are doing. We know our mission and objectives; our leadership has and continues to inform us wisely.

This is also well said.


5 posted on 12/18/2004 7:31:25 AM PST by PeterPrinciple (seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: bkwells

bump


6 posted on 12/18/2004 7:33:37 AM PST by wouldilie (I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas......)
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To: bkwells

BUMP

7 posted on 12/18/2004 7:36:44 AM PST by gitmo (Thanks, Mel. I needed that.)
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To: bkwells; sweetliberty; TheBattman
Very wll said!

Arkansas PING!

8 posted on 12/18/2004 7:38:21 AM PST by Budge (<><)
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To: bkwells

I am partly convinced that there are a number of reasons that the MSM is working so hard to undermine the USA's military efforts.

Partly, due to the fact that most "journalists" are pretty much politically left wing and opposed to most wars (as "Princess Ann" would say, the press opposes any war that is in the interests of the USA).

That for reasons that I've never understood, many fledgling journalists go into the profession "to make the world a better place." I thought that journalists were supposed to report the news, not be propagandists.

And that the MSM is enamoured with power. They remember that the MSM manipulations of the news caused the USA to lose a war (never mind the fact that they were also responsible for millions of deaths when the USA pulled out of Viet Nam), proving how powerful they were.

I think that this combination is what's causing the MSM to try to hide anything good that happens in Iraq.

Mark


9 posted on 12/18/2004 7:40:20 AM PST by MarkL (Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutely, too!)
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To: bkwells

needs to be sent to everyone at Fox....


10 posted on 12/18/2004 7:44:32 AM PST by is_is (VPD of Lcpl Daniel - USMC - Iraq)
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To: bkwells

Which reminds me, that POS Kevin Sites (the seditious embed reporter from Fallujah) hasn't posted one single word on his blog since Nov 21. He's also deleted all the discussion comments post-Nov 15 and also the commentary that got him in trouble.

I guess he's persona non grata in Iraq, and he'll probably never work with the U.S. military ever again.

Good. I wish the military would blackball all of these anti-American propagandists.

www.kevinsites.net


11 posted on 12/18/2004 7:45:02 AM PST by angkor
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To: bad company

We need to get this out to the nonfreeper readers.


12 posted on 12/18/2004 7:50:27 AM PST by marmar (Faith is a beautiful thing.....)
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To: bkwells
I have been in the Army for the last seven years.... I have been to Bosnia, Kosovo, and have just returned from Iraq.... I am an explosive ordnance disposal technician tasked with the removal of the roadside bombs, or IEDs, and unexploded ordnance in Iraq.

What, and this soldier thinks he knows more than Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd? /sarc

An excellent letter.

13 posted on 12/18/2004 7:53:37 AM PST by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: bkwells

I wonder (yeah sure) what the reporting would be If (scarey thought) we had a President sKerry, Clinton or Gore?


14 posted on 12/18/2004 7:53:37 AM PST by Foolsgold (dumped daschel he he he he)
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To: is_is

Needs to be sent to Coleman and the crew in Congress.. they need to take a big chill pill on Rummie!


15 posted on 12/18/2004 7:55:54 AM PST by dalight
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To: bkwells

And said by an Arkansasn!


16 posted on 12/18/2004 7:56:17 AM PST by TheBattman (Islam (and liberals)- the cult of Satan)
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To: MikeinIraq

God bless, Mike. Keep your head down and come home safe.


17 posted on 12/18/2004 7:57:02 AM PST by manic4organic (We won. Get over it.)
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To: MarkL
The MSM is all part of the Socialist movement to undermine our Constitutional Republic. They are using the dame tact tics now as when they were against the Vietnam War. They report the Negative or nothing, once in a while they will report something positive that places America in a good light, but at the end of the report and you can put money on it, the reporter will put in a negative twist.

Letters have been written to the FCC, the MSM themselves but they are against America, they want us brought to our knees and destroyed. The Liberal Socialist, the Democrats, the UN are all part of doing away with our Constitutional Republic!! That's it!!

Slowly but surely they have infiltrated our schools, the MSM, government offices, Religions, all. The mark of the beast is here, they just haven't started the labeling process yet. The ELITIST of BOTH parties are in on this. How nay times can you recall George the First mentioning the NEW WORLD ORDER, Clinton the same, and now George the Second. The Sheep are being separated from the Goats. Each man will decide if he is a Lamb of God or a GOAT of Satan.
18 posted on 12/18/2004 7:58:17 AM PST by 26lemoncharlie (Defending America)
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To: MarkL

"And that the MSM is enamoured with power. They remember that the MSM manipulations of the news caused the USA to lose a war (never mind the fact that they were also responsible for millions of deaths when the USA pulled out of Viet Nam), proving how powerful they were."

Out of curiousity which of the wars, Vietnam or Iraq has the MSM written more negative news about?


19 posted on 12/18/2004 7:59:50 AM PST by stopem
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To: Foolsgold

They would be reporting about the homicide bombings in OUR country, as we wouldn't be in Afghanistan or Iraq. It would be open season in our country on us!!!


20 posted on 12/18/2004 8:01:31 AM PST by WV Mountain Mama (May the Peace of Christ be with you this Christmas and all year. Merry Christmas!)
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To: bkwells

MSM is the enemy!


21 posted on 12/18/2004 8:01:50 AM PST by Free_at_last_-2001 (is clinton in jail yet?)
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To: bkwells

bump


22 posted on 12/18/2004 8:03:52 AM PST by NorseWood
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To: bkwells

TRUTH BUMP


23 posted on 12/18/2004 8:15:41 AM PST by kitkat
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To: TheBattman

During the Clinton years, when some one asked me where I ws calling from, I'd say: "Arkansas,..but I didn't vote for the SOB"!

Next month, I may be doing some consulting work at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Think that young EOD Sgt would accept a steak dinner from an old retired recon Sgt.?


24 posted on 12/18/2004 8:32:13 AM PST by womcg ((was in hospital longer than Kerry was in country) ))
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To: MikeinIraq

Rockets and mortars and bombs, oh my!

You're right, the vest isn't designed to protect against explosives drpping from the skies. I've tried to remind some people that SAPI is not Safe Always Protective Inserts, but they feel that they have to 'do something'.

You'd probably agree that if you heard it and you're standing, you're ok. And, by the time you can get the stuff on and find a bunker it is probably done anyway.

The homemade vehicle armor is only good for small arms and shrapnel or deflecting the blast somewhat at best.

And as one who has only had any type of vehicular armor 3 times out of 3 dozen, I will admit that I felt better than not having any. Having had to account for bullets and holes in damaged vehicles, I know damn well that the armor works and that .30 cal rounds penetrate doors, glass, and noggins easily.

The guy makes a good point that armor has some placebo effects. And for the most part, nothing wrong with that. Better to have troops that have less worry than more worry.

Admit it. You can't leave. You're gonna miss it way too much. Oh sure you'll have nearly endless hot showers, real porcelain commodes, a 'just right' mattress, a full sized fridge full of beer and food with real names that you can recognize, TV, more than just "Freedom Radio" and 4 Iraqi stations, soft or hard will be taco choices not SUV choices, and you will be able to find clothes that don't have OIF all over them. Yes, you'll miss the hadji mart. And smoke on the horizon. And being able to chuckle at the noobs who don't yet know the difference between incoming and outgoing.

Best to you, 22 and a wake up.


25 posted on 12/18/2004 8:38:15 AM PST by Eagle Eye ("Yeah? Now imagine that times 30 and in a small room.")
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To: stopem
Out of curiousity which of the wars, Vietnam or Iraq has the MSM written more negative news about?

Funny you should ask.

I have right here in front of me Vol. 1 of The Library Of America's "Reporting Vietnam". Vol 1 is a compilation of reporting from 1959 to 1969, and includes all the usual suspects: Karnow, Sheehan, Halberstam, Alsop, Tom Wolfe, Schell, Arnett, and Cronkite.

For the most part and right up until 1967/68 the reporting is factual, incisive, interesting, like the good embed stuff we sometimes see from Iraq.

Beginning about 1967/68 it becomes increasingly critical, but not in the cheap, seditious, and dishonest manner that see from Iraq these days. For the most part the Vietnam reporters are quite up front that they are turning against the war in VN. And they explain why. They don't try to convince anyone that they're being "objective". They describe their experiences and their prejudices.

A lot of these guys went to VN in support of the war, and several were holdouts for a very long time, e.g., surprisingly David Halberstam was a hawk who stayed a hawk long after many other reporters had turned.

The difference that I can see ios that most of the VN reporters were at least willing to be loyal to America from the beginning, whereas most of the reporters in Iraq are both against America and extremely dishonest from the get go.

26 posted on 12/18/2004 8:54:28 AM PST by angkor
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To: angkor

Thank you. Interesting.

Thats the bottom line, at least they were loyal to America before, well put, and may I add loyal to our troops.


27 posted on 12/18/2004 9:00:49 AM PST by stopem
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To: Foolsgold

Clinton or Gore would never have had the courage to take America to war. As for Kerry, the positive would begin to be reported more and the horrors extenuated.


28 posted on 12/18/2004 9:01:27 AM PST by Robert DeLong
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To: dalight
Needs to be sent to Coleman and the crew in Congress.. they need to take a big chill pill on Rummie!

Yes, they do. It's very easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. Our troops deserve better, as do their leaders.

29 posted on 12/18/2004 9:19:30 AM PST by alnick
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To: MikeinIraq
Two of your points I really agree with

in terms of IEDs, body armor doesnt cover your lower legs. IEDS are generally on the ground. No help there. You avoid them by being cautious and remembering your training...

I sat sideways in the TC seat of an unarmored gunvee on almost every movement, and I can't tell you how many times I nearly lost my legs to passing traffic. (Or how many times I nearly fell out until I found a good way to snaplink myself in) But it was worth it to have a clean field of fire and present an aggressive posture.

For the soldiers, a clear field of fire can be just as important as being protected from fire. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Driving fast and rolling like you're looking for trouble will keep all but the most insanely suicidal off your back. Too many people get lulled into thinking that they run this route all the time, and nothing ever happens, and then they get hit. You have to keep the mentality that every time you leave the wire, you're expecting contact. You need to ensure that everyone is not only alert, but proactively scanning their lanes, and covering potential targets.

Armor is great, but there's no substitute for not getting caught napping.

30 posted on 12/18/2004 9:30:02 AM PST by Steel Wolf (Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules. Mark it zero, Dude.)
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To: bkwells

.

We MUST all listen to our protectors and honor their CLARITY in time of war...

...or all is lost.

When we refused to do so during the Vietnam War over 3 million poor S.E. Asian souls lost their lives as a consequence afterwards. and many more their Freedom while being tortured by their Godless Communist Bully captors.

http://www.WeWereSoldiers.com
http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_set1.htm
http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_set2.htm
http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_set3.htm


.


31 posted on 12/18/2004 9:46:27 AM PST by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.comi)
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To: stopem

I got the Library Of America's "Reporting Vietnam Vol. 1" from my library. They have Vol. 2 as well which I'll pick up next week or so.

It's very interesting, most of the stories are 6 to 10 pages and you can pick and choose what you want to read.

Highly recommended.

BTW, I got it for precisely the same question you raised: I wanted to see how the Vietnam reporting of the past compared to the Iraq reporting of today.

The differences are obvious and dramatic.


32 posted on 12/18/2004 9:47:54 AM PST by angkor
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To: Free_at_last_-2001

.

...While RATHER tried to depose our Commander-in-Chief BUSH with continuing TV Lies...

...in a Time of War that has our own Freedom now at stake here at home...

...Liberal Los Angeles Times Media Critic DAVID SHAW tries to tell us that:


RATHER's work is 'Shoddy, Slipshod' not LIBERAL..?

http://www.Freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1227809/posts

.


33 posted on 12/18/2004 10:04:39 AM PST by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.comi)
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To: bkwells
Freedom is not won overnight

Can't say that often enough especially to the MSM. Thanks Brian.

34 posted on 12/18/2004 10:08:20 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: angkor

1968 was the date the Cultural Revolution began. Americans are most familiar with Woodstock, but there were similar movements in Europe and, to a lesser extent, Japan. There were student riots in Paris that year. Charles de Gaulle fled to his home in the country at their height, because he didn't know how to deal with them. In Germany you had the rise of the Bader Meinhoff gang. In Italy there were similar terrorist groups.

Vietnam was the peg on which much of this revolutionary fervor hung. But to some degree it was just an excuse for something that was ripe to happen anyway. The Cultural Revolution was the logical outgrowth of late, decadent modernism, with it growing realization that the Age of Reason was not all that rational after all and that "progress" had led to Stalin, Hitler, and two world wars.

Later, Vietnam was blamed on Nixon, but it was Lyndon Johnson who presided over the turning point. No doubt one reason reporters turned against the war was their perception that Johnson had no intention of winning it. He micromanaged and tied the military's hands. The rot came from the head down.

Maybe that's why today's reporters are so obsessed with attacking the leadership. But the truth is that Bush has been an excellent leader. Cheney as been an excellent leader. Rumsfeld has been an excellent leader. Unlike Johnson they have been determined to do things right and to win. The Vietnam generation of reporters went overboard in the end, but they had genuine issues to object to. The Iraq generation of reporters have nothing but bad faith.


35 posted on 12/18/2004 10:14:42 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: bkwells

"The IEDs in Iraq often have enough explosives in them that the armor on most trucks proves to be ineffective ... it is not the answer to our problems in Iraq."

"There has never been an IED campaign in the history of the world like the one we are living through in Iraq. There is no way the leadership that sent us to war could possibly have known to expect these extreme attacks on its fighting force ..."

I'm going to send this letter to every media outlet I have an email for - as well as to every person in Congress - along with some not so polite comments. I'm sick of this attack on Rumsfeld and our military.


36 posted on 12/18/2004 11:30:04 AM PST by The Final Harvest (Where are the dem supporters? - try the trash cans in back of the abortion clinics.)
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To: marmar

I sent it to everyone on my email list.


37 posted on 12/18/2004 12:22:52 PM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: 26lemoncharlie
Exactly right..............Documentation here:

____________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________


Unholy Alliance

by David Horowitz
Hardcover - (September 2004) - $27.95

In this tour de force on the most important issue of our time, David Horowitz, confronts the paradox of how so many Americans, including the leadership of the Democratic Party, could turn against the War on Terror. He finds an answer in a political Left that shares a view of America as the ?Great Satan? with America?s radical Islamic enemies.

38 posted on 12/18/2004 12:24:03 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I havn't read any of these type of books. Maybe I should!


39 posted on 12/18/2004 12:28:21 PM PST by 26lemoncharlie (Defending America)
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To: bkwells
Better author and more informed than 95% of the Stoneage Press!! Armored vehicles are only being used as a club by the PravdABDNC.

Pray for W and Our Troops

40 posted on 12/18/2004 12:33:46 PM PST by bray (Keep Christ in the Manger!)
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To: blackie

I just haven't figured out how to cut and paste. So I rely on BC. He is really cool that way.


41 posted on 12/18/2004 1:23:54 PM PST by marmar (Faith is a beautiful thing.....)
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To: bkwells
If you meet this guy on the street, reach out and shake his hand but keep your left hand on your wallet. I know these EOD guys.

In most cases, body armor does little good when you are working on an IED. It just basically adds to the frag to include your body parts that might hit a friend behind you. I know of one case in Vietnam where one of our guys got a sucking chest wound from the fingers of the guy in front of him.

I personally had to use both arms and push with both legs to pull the bones of a leg that went through a ammo box one time so I could put it in the body bag along with everything else we were picking and literally scraping up with my trusty K-bar knife.

We never used body armor or any other type when we were in Vietnam. When you get an earburst from a large explosive item, its all over. We always use to wonder if you could see the case swell before you died.

These guys have really got it rough compared to what we did because of the technology that is now available to build IED's. Pray for them.
42 posted on 12/18/2004 2:02:07 PM PST by U S Army EOD (John Kerry, the mother of all flip floppers.I)
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To: MarkL

To fledgling jounalists, putting the same face on Iraq as was put on Viet Nam would be a badge of honor. In their twisted way of thinking it would give them the recognition that the Dan Rather's got during the Viet Nam war. Individually, no matter what they say about "making the world a better place", it is in their subconscious that they can have a better place in future assignments/positions in journalism if they treat the war this way so that they can gain favor with their editors (now and in the future) and be given special recognition among their peers.


43 posted on 12/18/2004 2:31:26 PM PST by CedarDave (Primary rule of Dem whining: The complaint need not be accurate as long as the charge is serious.)
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To: Cicero
Despite one soldier's journalist-written question to Rumsfeld, Rummy is well regarded by the troops. They respect a no-nonsense defense chief who does not sugar-coat problems like most politicians, but instead tells it like it is. I wish we had more Republicans like him in the Senate instead of always grandstanding McPain, Rino Collins, and Letscompromise Lott.
44 posted on 12/18/2004 2:41:21 PM PST by CedarDave (Primary rule of Dem whining: The complaint need not be accurate as long as the charge is serious.)
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To: marmar

Just highlight and copy, then go to your email program and paste ~ or, just copy the FR link amd send it, that way they can read everyones comments. :)


45 posted on 12/18/2004 3:53:59 PM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Eagle Eye

thanks man...

I am sure that in a couple of months or maybe a year you will be right about me missing it. But as of right now, I could leave today :)

I have a lot of things cooking back home right now. Things that will be a lot easier for me to handle when I am back home.

Thanks for the thoughts man.


46 posted on 12/18/2004 8:07:14 PM PST by MikefromOhio (23 days until I can leave Iraq and stop selling hotdogs in Baghdad....and boycotting boycotts)
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To: Steel Wolf

Armor is great, but there's no substitute for not getting caught napping.




ding ding ding!!!

we have a winner :)


47 posted on 12/18/2004 8:09:07 PM PST by MikefromOhio (23 days until I can leave Iraq and stop selling hotdogs in Baghdad....and boycotting boycotts)
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To: MikeinIraq

Since I only get one BK meal every few months, eat one for me when you get back.

21?


48 posted on 12/18/2004 8:35:36 PM PST by Eagle Eye ("Yeah? Now imagine that times 30 and in a small room.")
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To: Eagle Eye

it will be 21 and a wake up here in about 20 minutes or so (I go by east coast time :))

I had BK yesterday :)


49 posted on 12/18/2004 8:49:38 PM PST by MikefromOhio (23 days until I can leave Iraq and stop selling hotdogs in Baghdad....and boycotting boycotts)
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To: Squantos

A note here from one of Your Clan, Sir


50 posted on 12/18/2004 8:54:02 PM PST by ChefKeith (Life is GREAT with CoCo..........NASCAR...everything else is just a game!(Except War & Love))
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