Dear Captain Dan: April 13, 2006

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Dear Captain Dan:

To those who use this forum to whine and cry about politics, to attack you personally for being a soldier and other naysayers, I say that if you enjoy your freedoms, the right to vote, speak freely, assemble and other American rights, you should fall down on your knees and thank the U.S. military. No one else on this planet can guarantee those rights. Show some gratitude for a change.
— Sen. John Douglas, R-Covington
Chairman, Georgia Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs
I have a real hard time believing the whole morale thing. Soldiers would rather spend their time off going on patrols and training? I was deployed during Operation Desert Shield/Storm with the 82nd Airborne, and while we all looked out for one another, I do not remember ever wanting to go out on patrol more than laying back.
I do remember officers stating how great morale was when we knew it sucked and we wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there. Any officer or NCO that thinks all soldiers want to go out on patrol are more out of touch with their soldiers than I thought. Get real, sir!
— Tim G.

Your article reminded me of our tours in 'Nam where we, too, worked seven days a week because we wanted to. You and your men are doing a wonderful job and I am very proud of you all.

So much of the news reminds me of the 1960s era. History does repeat itself, but you must not get discouraged.

— Bob W.

I disagree. I think captains DO run the Army. I know, because I ran my portion of it while no one else seemed to care.
— Capt. Billye S.
Army Nurse Corps, 1985-93
I haven’t been to Iraq yet, and I seriously doubt that I'll get there as I retire soon after I return from my second deployment to Afghanistan. I was here in the initial buildup of forces and we were getting all types of support. Then, soon as Iraq kicked off it seemed like everyone forgot about the war still going on here in Afghanistan.
We still have Americans and coalition forces here getting wounded and killed. We have had over a dozen bombings and attempted bombings in my area here in the last week. But when I try to find them on the news I have to search for it — everything is back-page news coming out of here, even though we are still having the same types of attacks as in Iraq. Seems like sometimes this place and the soldiers here have been forgotten about.
— Sgt. 1st Class Dana M.
I fought my battles for a year in the ICU at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during 2004. My six-inch view of the war was only the bad stuff that happened to service members in the combat zones. However, as you described it, one may have viewed the deaths and mangled bodies we cared for as a failure, while another may have seen it as the normal consequences of war.
Yet, at 6 feet, we didn't care about the reasons behind the war or what brought us there. To sit and think about such items would have only distracted us from our mission of caring for the fallen. Thank you sir for your tremendous insight.

— 1st. Lt. Shawn T.
349th Combat Support Hospital
I find your articles genuine and representative of the soldier's perspective. It is not all about Hooah and storming the hill.
My son is in the 101st Airborne (also Ft. Campbell) with the Apaches. Forget about the politics. This is about getting soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines into and out of the theater unharmed, and mission accomplished.
— Eugene S.

My nephew joined the Marines two days after graduation in May of 2005. My family tried to talk him out of it, but he said he believed in what he was doing. He loved his country and thought he could make a difference.

He arrived in Iraq in March, 2006. He was killed by a roadside bomb on April 6, 2006, making rounds near Al Anbar province, Iraq. He had turned 19 in March.

I do not want my nephew's death to be in vain. How can I dishonor him and say that what he was doing was not right? How can anyone that has family in the service say that? How dare you dishonor your loved one. They believed they were doing the right thing by being there and you should honor their decision.

— Anita Z.
Katy, Texas

Chaplains and medics are the two people who make a contribution that is missed by a lot of people. A medic from WWII in the Pacific who was highly decorated just passed away. He refused to carry a rifle (conscientious objector), he did not want to kill but he saved many lives, including his company commander who had despised him for his beliefs.
On the other hand, there was a chaplain with the 3rd Infantry Division during the Iraq invasion who was not against using an M-16. My nephew said he probably shot more enemy than most of the troopers did. He was protecting the aid station. As my nephew said, the chaplain stated he was protecting "his" wounded.
— Joe T.
In response to Darline G.'s comments :
By saying such a thing, she has disgraced her fiancé and what he is fighting for. When he joined the service he knew that there may be a chance that he would go to war and have to fight for his country. He chose to do that and I am sure he takes great pride in that.
I know that the men and women [in the armed services] may not agree with our president about what is going on over there, but they still fight for our country every day, live through things on a day-to-day basis that we do not have the guts to do ourselves just so that we can have our
— Candee B.
Columbus, Ohio
E-mail Dan at . Comments may be edited for clarity. Click here to read his bio.