Dear Captain Dan: April 5, 2006

Editor's note: Captain Dan appreciates readers' good wishes but will not accept gifts through Soldier's Diary. For information on how to help troops deployed overseas, see "Fast Facts: Helping Soldiers and Veterans."

Dear Captain Dan:

As an old Vietnam vet, I understand the shower deal. We had lister bags to shower under, and when in the bush we were grateful to have dry socks. I used to cherish the moment the squad leader would hand out dry socks and briefs, but during the monsoon season it didn't do much good. Ah well, it's behind me, but reading your article made me sit back and think back to those days.

— Dan H.

I was working in Iraq for the Corps of Engineers for 17 months. I never had it as bad as any of you, but I did see a little of what all of you live with each day. And I can say that I understand where you are coming from with being able to get that hot shower. I lived in everything from the palace in the Green Zone, hotels all over Iraq, dams, Army bases and man camps, but if I could get my hot shower I was in heaven that day.

— Dan S.

One MRE and one canteen of water a day while on patrol? If that is the best we can do for our soldiers, I am embarrassed and ashamed.

— Steve S.
Kerrville, Texas

This one brought back memories of being stinking dirty so that you couldn't stand your own smell. I can vividly recall many times dreaming of taking a shower, and maybe sitting on a real toilet.

I am so thankful that you guys have all that you have while deployed. It is very difficult duty, even without having someone shooting at you. But most of all, I am glad that 99 percent of my fellow citizens care deeply about you all, your safety and the success of your mission. During my time in service, you knew that a good portion of the country held you in contempt. It made the sacrifices a good bit tougher.

— Marc J.
Captain, USMC 1971-1974
Atlanta

You may impress the majority of the readers of your column but I view it as sniveling, trite and demeaning to the forward troops.

— James G.

It is so nice to read something positive going on in Iraq. We read and hear so much here that is harmful to the well being of our people and country. I am 92 years old and have never seen so much bitterness in our nation before. It won't take an enemy to destroy this country, looks like it is going to destroy itself from within.

— Alvah P.

When I joined the Navy, I had it in the back of my mind that there was some remote chance of a war breaking out. I didn't so much join with the idea that I would be serving my country, as I joined because I thought it would be fun to see the world. I dare say many of my contemporaries felt the same. It was the military which made us grow up, and take responsibility.
With the uncertainty of today's world, I think a man or woman who makes the decision to join the service has much more on the ball than we did. You are not going in thinking there is a "remote" chance of going to war, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion you will be in a combat zone. That takes a hell of a lot of guts, and I commend all of you for that.

— Kirk W.
Beaverton, Mich.

My son, a captain with the 3rd Infantry, came home from his second tour of duty in Iraq this past December. He was assigned to a FOB in Samarra, in the Sunni Triangle, and his company’s job was to keep the supply route open through central Iraq. As you can imagine we prayed for him constantly, through both deployments. He came home safe and sound, thankfully, both times.

Your articles have helped me to appreciate what my son was doing over there. He would never tell us exactly what he had to do, because he didn’t want to worry us. But I know that he was in danger every time he stepped out of the FOB.

— Frank W.
Malvern, Pa.

I have a fiancé at Camp Liberty. If George Bush was trying to avenge the people of 9/11, he was mistaken, for the only thing this war did was start killing more of our fine citizens who are currently in the armed forces and make the economy fall. My family can hardly afford groceries because of the cost of living. There are people over there that want to kill my fiancé and don't even know what a sensitive and beautiful person he is, only because he is American they think he should die.

— Darline G.

Several years ago I spent three years in a small African country that was fighting for freedom. The government was trying to keep all of the schools open in the bush as they had given close to 90 percent of school-age children the ability to get an education. Even with a nasty war going on. Well, we lost and were forced to leave. Today that country has less then 30 percent of its rural schools open and no war going on.

Education keeps a free people free. Without freedom, education suffers and tyrants rule.

— Carol S.

You're earnest enough, a bit jingoistic, but in the end, all your work and good deeds will be for naught. As soon as we pull out of Iraq, it will go to hell in a handbasket. They don't want you there. And no, we don't think what you are doing is keeping us any safer here in the U.S. In fact, you've managed to destabilize the region pretty good and that has led to less security here.

— Mike P.

Thank you for letting us know the good that is happening in Iraq. We need to know that, although we know it's dangerous and still a violent area, good things are happening and our troops are a large part of that. Even the small things should be applauded.

I was against the war and still am. Luckily, thanks to folks like you, we have the freedom in this country to voice our opinions without fear of harm, unlike the folks in Iraq had to endure for so long. I hope the troops in Iraq don't feel that those of us who don't support the war hold any ill feelings toward them ... that is just not the case. I'm extremely proud of you all.

— Heidi S.
Mt. Vernon, Maine

As a retired North Caroline state trooper with 30 years of service, and having served as a training officer for troopers reporting for field service, it is no small event to get those men up to speed. Our task of training men under less than great conditions has to rank up there with superhuman efforts. Keep up the good work.
— Mike
E-mail Dan at soldiersdiary@gmail.com . Click here to read his bio.