9/12/06: 'Soldier's Diary' Readers Respond to Captain Dan

Here are just a few of the most recent responses, as of Sept. 12, to Capt. Dan Sukman's 'Soldier's Diary' on FOXNews.com.

Capt. Dan,

I wanted to e-mail you one last time before you returned home. Your column has been a godsend for me. Having two sons serving in Iraq is the hardest thing. Sometimes they can't call home or e-mail and so reading your column has helped me a lot. It's like I know what they are doing. AS for the 55 who gave their lives for this country, I feel for their families and thank them for their sons' service and the sacrifice the family made. As you know, I lost my youngest son, Cpl. Bobby West, on May 30. He was with the 4th and was killed by an IED. The hurt of losing a son is ever present. However, I still have Spc. Patrick West, who, being my only living child, is at Fort Campbell helping to get things ready for you and the 101st return. He tells me he is anxious for you guys to come home. It will be a great day when the last plane touches down. I hope to be there. Please tell your soldiers how proud I am of them, they have done a great job and served the United States well. And thank you, Captain Dan, for your hard work and keeping us informed. —Linda West, mother of fallen soldier, Cpl. Bobby West, Beese, Ark.

Dear Capt. Dan,

As an American citizen in a small town I know what your service means to our country. For all that you do I want to say, "thank you." I also know that those words will never be enough for you, your family, or any soldier and their families for all that you do. Everyday you all go out and put your lives on the line so that we can sit here in America and enjoy all of the freedoms that we have like choosing our own religion. And on a daily basis, all of the soldiers have family here that worries constantly if their loved will be coming home alive. I say prayers daily for our military members and their families that all is safe and well. Please let our troops know that all of us back home are praying for the safe return of all. We have lost several soldiers in our little area of home and that has been hard. And knowing that we still have thousands there is just as hard. I have a 10-year-old daughter that thinks the world of what our military does, so much so that she wants to join the Army. I just hope that whatever she does she is happy. She says that our troops are her inspiration. Have a blessed day and Godspeed to you all. —Renee' Smith, Orange, Texas

Capt. Sukman,

Since my unit, the 430th Replacement Company, returned home in December 2005 many have asked me what I believe about our reasons for being in Iraq. I never really thought about it until you summed it up about us being there for each other. Thank you. I am tired of being asked what soldiers believe about this war. I am sure as we age and eventually retire, we may have opinions about the politics, but for now I have to say that we serve each other.

My unit's mission was very different from yours, less dangerous, save a few mortars, but still important. We served not only fellow Army soldiers, but also Marines, sailors, airmen, and civilians by operating the passenger-processing terminal in LSA Anaconda, Balad, and working with return-to-duty soldiers coming out of the theater hospital. I would tell my soldiers every day why we were here — to provide service to our fellow soldiers. Up to now, I never thought to explain it that way to anyone else. Anyways, I know your time is short so I will end this e-mail. God bless you and your soldiers. Accept my condolences and prayers for your fellow fallen warriors. Be safe and bring the rest of them home. Hooah! —Maj. John Schoener, 316th ESC 99th Regional Readiness Command, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Dear Captain Dan,

We fight to win. Win what? The chance of another country to have the chance to have what we have and fought for. Freedom through a democratic republic. What's that? People elect, through voting, their leaders. A government of the people, by the people, for the people. What are the chances of winning? Slim, because if people lose their faith in freedom they will surrender their rights to men with absolute power - kings, generals, politically ambitious and power hungry men. What are the costs? Tens of thousands — sometimes millions — of casualties of men, women, and children. Rivers of blood, ocean of tears. Is the price worth it? If people see the long-term goal of winning they will win. If people only see the pain and suffering as the costs of winning, they will hold back and retard the chances of winning. The people will lose the hope of having a popular government. What happened in Vietnam? We did not support South Vietnam. A weak president and a strong Congress were responsible for losing that war, along with the people who elected them. What are the chances of winning in Iraq? [It] depends on the strength of the president. If he convinces the people that he is right, then the people of Iraq will win. People will elect Congress [that] will support what they want done. How long will this last, this war in Iraq? Depends of the people. If they support their elected government, they will get rid of the insurgency by informing their government where these guys are. Also depends on the intelligence of the government. I mean, the government agents must go to the people and listen to them. Find out who is who and what is what. Help them to support themselves against those who will kill them. And support people who are for the elected government. How long will this take? Years. Again it depends on the president who initiated the war and the people of American and Iraq. What are cost of losing? Iraq will descend into full-scale civil war. After which, a powerful general will emerge, another Saddam, or a more powerful Iran will take over. Either way, the people of Iraq will lose. And later, within 20 years, America might just experience a nuclear war, certainly Israel will. What will happen if Iraq becomes a stable and viable democracy? The people would have won. They will have peace and freedom. Possible that Iran will become a democratic republic instead of being rule by Islamic fascism.

I believe this so I may be able to understand what you are doing in Iraq is a good and honorable. —Tom Wiseman

Dear Captain Dan,

I have been reading your column for the past six months. It has been great to get a perspective from a soldier that has a bird's-eye view and in the daily grind of the war. I have appreciated the frankness of your articles, as well as your opinions. I really believe that the U.S. press does a terrible job of reporting on the war. It is so slanted and they seem to have totally forgotten the war in Afghanistan. Back home, we are very isolated from the war and it is hard to imagine what is taking place over there. When I want to know what's going on I read and watch the BBC and read your column. Thanks again for keeping us informed. Have a safe trip home. All the best. —Jeanine Thompson, New York


I am an Air Force wife whose husband was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, six days ago and making this third tour over to the sand pit in almost five years. He is an operation officer of security over there. It's no picnic for any of you guys and gals over there and I am so proud to be married to one of those guys who love his work and does the kind of work he does. While reading your diary, it really up lifted me Thank you for taking the time on doing this and it helped me tonight reading your diary to make me even more strong to endure the time my husband and I will be apart again. In [the] six days [of] him being gone, 14 died from a downed plane crash, plus other things happening around or near his base. I do not know how you guys do it and deal with this every day over there. It's never easy here on not knowing if everything is OK and safe for that day. All I can do is pray and wait for that 1 phone call maybe once a week or an e-mail if there is time that day. It's no fun on either side of this but it has to be done. Thank you [so] much and hope you all got home safe on your long tour. —Judy Purdin, Texas

Cpt. Dan,

Thanks for the service of you and the rest of the men and women overseas. You're all in our prayers. You're right that priorities will change and spending time with family will probably top the list. But the bonds that you've formed will be as tight as family. I've met up with friends from Grenada and Desert Storm or overseas assignments as much as 10 years later and it's like we were apart for days. Friends and family will listen as we have a beer and talk about experiences and stories that make us laugh. The Internet makes finding and contacting old friends much easier so you may not keep in touch weekly but I think you'll be surprised how strong these friendships will be even over time and distance. —Mike Fritz, Peoria, Ill.

Capt. Dan,

I have read your dispatches from day one; you exemplify all that is honorable and admirable in our military. I am awed by your accomplishments. I remain here in Iraq, to continue to build a lasting tribute to the sacrifices your comrades paid so dearly for. God bless you, Godspeed on your journey home, and I hope you find the welcome there warm and the beer cold. —Terry Dinerman, paramedic, Baghdad, Iraq

Capt. Dan,

Thank you and your troops for all you are doing. We have a son that is deployed there near Tal Afar at FOB Sykes with 1-36 In. His wife and newborn son (Sept. 5, '06) are in Germany and my wife and I are in Texas. I have taken a lot of comfort reading your journal knowing that my son serves with some of the finest people on the face of the earth. He has, on several occasions, told me how much his leaders are teaching him about how to lead and after reading your posts, I know he is in good hands. I am thankful that we have people like you that are willing to risk their lives to lead others in a time of war. Take care and know that our prayers are with you and every person we have protecting us and our freedom. Thank you and may God richly bless you and everyone else that is serving our country. —Tim and Saundra Womack

Capt. Dan,

I just wanted to tell you how much I, and my family, appreciate your, and all [of] our soldiers', sailors', and Marines' sacrifices. A heart-felt thank you isn't easy in an e-mail. But every time I see someone in uniform I tell them 'thank you.' Maybe it will help. I am praying for you and for America. God Bless us all. —Jack M. Melton

Dear Soldiers,

My husband and myself want to thank you all for all that you do. We hear that this war is not worth anything, that you all should not be there. I come from a long list of family members who has served, I had a brother who served in Vietnam [and] I remember what he was like when he got home. They all said he was killing babies for no reason when he got home he was not the same person. I know only too well what you all have to go through each day. You all have left behind spouses, children, parents, and girlfriends.

And you did this all to make my world that I live in a safer place … all of you soldiers who put their lives on the line who willingly go to protect us. I thank you so much and even if I do not know any of you, I love each and every one [of you] who is out there serving and protecting my life and the lives of my family and friends. Thank you for helping me to have the freedoms that I have. Don't let others tell you that what you are doing is wrong. Maybe war is not what we want to get into, but sometimes that is what we have to do to protect those who have no voice. Thank you and we will pray for you all and may God bless you and keep you all safe. —Sharyle Lovasco, Visalia, Calif.

Capt. Dan,

Thank you for taking time to share your experiences. My son-in-law is currently serving in Iraq. We buried his best friend yesterday. He was killed in Baghdad recently. The day before the funeral I spent with his pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter. His future was prematurely ended, but the lives of his family will be forever changed. One thing that really stood out for me was that there was not bitterness. She never questioned why it had to be him, and she never questioned why he was fighting. She often said that he knew he was there for a purpose and that we are making a difference. She displayed great courage for a 21-year-old widow. I can see the change in my son-in-law. as well. He is no longer the teenager that jumped over the back of my couch a few years ago. His visit home this time was much different. He is a hardened combat veteran with the softest, kindest heart of anyone I know. Again, there are no regrets for the service to his country and there is no wavering in his belief that we are there for a purpose. I want to thank you and everyone for their service to our country, to their commitment to keeping our country free and its citizens safe. It is true that you can't understand unless you have someone deployed. I know my life is forever changed by the loss of his friend. We have always been taught that soldiers have died for our freedom. Until you loose someone close to you, you can't realize the impact of that statement.

Forgive my rambling, I think it is somehow therapeutic for me. Again thank you and everyone that is so honorably serving our country. May God surround you with His love, protection, and peace. —Sheila, Harlan, Ky.

To Captain,

55 soldiers is a lot to lose. My husband has been over in Balad almost a whole entire year and they haven't lost a single one. We feel so fortunate. I see soldiers' lives every day here at Ft. Sill, and people forget how human they are with bills and families who buy groceries. When my husband calls we don't even talk about Iraq, we talk about what is going on at school and teaching the kids how to ride a bike, how to fix the computer, where to get this and that … normal. I like to see them all "graduated" from basic training with their families at the PX. You can tell the ones because they are the only ones with class A's, a whole bunch of people around them. They are all studying us! What is life like at a military base? When I think of losing a soldier, I think of that. I think of their families and hopes and dreams they might have had. My husband is studying to become a chaplain. He has his bachelor's and entered enlisted. Hopefully, his dream will come true. —Sheryl Davenport, Ft. Sill, Okla.

Capt. Dan,

With all due respect, I greet you in the name of the USA. For whatever reason I read now and then some of your piece of diary. I agree with lots of opinions you throw out there. However, I disagree with most of it. I am fully against the war in Iraq, for the simple fact that I firmly believe that it is illegal, inappropriate, wrong, and unjustified. Unfortunately, I have to support those young men and women sent there fighting for the unknown known only by Georges Bush and his clique. It is a shame that so many young sons and daughters had to die for the selfishness of a few mad men in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department. I hope 30 years from now, someone will be able to explain very clearly the real reasons behind the ugly death of these young men and women in a war that most of them are against, even though they have to fight it, not having any choice whatsoever. Why is it the American media does not go after those soldiers who are fiercely against what's going on in Iraq and let them tell their side of the story anonymously? It can be done, but it will take lots of courage for journalists and producers to put in the air. Also, do you believe that these types of unnecessary and unfortunate wars would ever take place if the elite had their sons and daughters in the same position as those who volunteer in the Marines and Army Corps for a piece of higher education? —Roseme

Capt Dan,

I have read your diary for the past several months and never thought I would reply. I am a father and grandfather. My son served in Iraq with the Washington National Guard and, prior to that in the Sinai with the Oregon National Guard. He did not walk the streets of Iraq on combat missions. However, just being in Iraq meant danger. I tried to downplay his deployment to relieve stress on my wife. We had lost two children prior to Drew being deployed and it nearly sent my wife "over the edge." We e-mailed and talked on the phone many times during his Iraq stay, which helped immensely. When we learned that he was coming home and was headed for Germany, I thought to myself, "how lucky we are that he is coming home, but many other sons would not be coming home." It still bothers me today and just thinking about that brings tears to my eyes. I realize that your deployment and the deployment of the thousands of other soldiers is a necessary thing for the safety of the world, not just the U.S. I want to thank you for your service and for creating this diary. The one thing I wish that could impressed on the Iraqi people is that they are Iraqi first and then Shiite, Sunni, Kurd or any other Islamic division. Just reading your comments (Soldier's Diary: Zarqawi is Just One Obstacle Removed in Iraq Monday, June 12, 2006) about "lying to protect a tribe or family member," brought to my mind the entire trouble in the Middle East! How can a society function with morals like that? Do all followers of Islam believe in that creed? If so, the rest of the world is in for a struggle that will never end. Again, I want to thank you for your thoughts and your service. Come home safely! —Jim Peneton, Grants Pass, Ore.

Dear Capt.Dan,

First I would like to start this email with the most heartfelt 'thank you! I have the utmost respect for you and all that are serving this wonderful country. I've been reading your diary since you said "Goodbye, Starbucks" and it is the sole reason I visit FOXnews.com. I copy and paste every entry to a MSWord document (don't ask why) and I have been wanting to e-mail you ever since that entry and it is dated March 6.2006. But now that tomorrow is the five-year anniversary of 9/11, I'm overwhelmed with words to share with you. I lost no one on that horrid day but as I write this email my eyes swell with tears thinking about the ones who did. I'm a very patriotic person for one reason - I love my country! That's the bottom-line! Some of the people who have responded to your diary (and they know who they are) need to take a good look around themselves and understand the freedom the really have. There are a lot of things that Americans take for granted — the color of the trees in your backyard in late October, the way it smells after a good thunderstorm, the way a butterfly so curiously flutters from flower to flower. The one thing they should not take for granted is their damn freedom. It was not just handed to us! Brave men and women fought and died for us all to have the freedom we have. That should not be forgotten or looked over. If you can't respect the freedom you were given or disagree with this country you have chooses you know, you have the freedom to leave ... to a different country and you have the freedom to stay and complain about this one. You have the freedom to speak your mind and with that comes the choice with the freedom not to. I wish most of you would choose the freedom of "not to" or make the choice to exercise the freedom some of you so garishly take advantage of and get the hell out of my country, flee to a country where choice and freedom is limited. Please stop degrading my country and the men and women who protect it !!!!!!

… I am to very proud of you and everyone else who has [spent] time away from their families in this effort in ridding my country and the world of horrible acts of terrorism have read every one of your entries and responses from other readers. I appreciate and respect your personal views on this mission. More than once I've caught myself overwhelmed with tears on some of your entries …I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your heroism, bravery, your insight and honesty in this war. As you leave the "sandbox," make sure to say good-bye to "Spaceball One" and remember, within the 365 days spent there what changes you as an individual have made on each person, each soldier, each Iraqi. As a civilian I can only imagine. —Angela C., Kentucky

Captain Dan,

There are not the words to express the gratitude we feel towards you and the men and women in your command. Today (9/11) is the anniversary of the event that started the U.S. response to the global War on Terror. We remember the thousands of innocent civilians killed just because they were Americans. I do not know what events you and your troops have planned for today, but please remember that it is people like you, who sacrifice so much to stand up for those who are unable to do so themselves, who take the fight to the those who wish to do us harm. You are the defenders of freedom and liberty and while you may just be there for the man to your left, to your right, in front, and at your six, please remember that you are also keeping the horrors of another 9/11-type disaster off main street U.S.A.God Bless. —Cedric Fernandes

Dear Captain Dan,

I live in Las Vegas, and have been reading your diary. I am sad I did not read it earlier. You have a way of bringing to our minds, the military even down to each individual. I am so proud of our military men and women their courage is remarkable. I thank you for giving us insight, to how much you care about each one. I was talking with a young man at our church, who I thanked for my freedom. His face flushed, and said 'that is my job.' None think they are heroes, [but] they are — each and every one of them. Welcome home, Capt. Dan. May God bless you and your family. Thank you, sir, for your courage, your honor, and for giving us our freedom. I pray for each of you daily. —Janie

Dear Captain

I happen to glance at extracts of your diary, you have mentioned and touched upon some interesting points, may be continuation, repetition of 'All quiet on the western front,' narration of first WW by British soldier,' The desert episode' narration of WWII of unit action by a British unit, 'Infantry Platoon in Battle' by FM Rommel, narration of Gen. Douglas McArthur, covered in the small book, 'Remminance' (sic). The salient feature you intentionally seem to over look is, for a soldier/general to reason is no tression? (sic). Please also dwell on the war, the reasons, causes, the justification, the roll of U.S. forces in Iraq, the conqueror, liberators, occupier, leadership of the president commander-in chief, no mention of the opposing forces, their attrition ratio, the silent majority of civilians suffering. Is someone accountable? I have enjoyed your draft, now write the truth. —Asad M.Khan

Capt. Dan,

I'm just a simple guy from Texas. I guess I don't seem to know much to the esteemed liberals and protesters that mock you guys and say you deserve to die. But just let me say I am proud as hell of you guys and of all our forces. I'd lay down my life for any of you. Me and my family love each and every one of you and grieve when one of you guys fall in battle. It's a wound in my heart. When you guys get back, if any of you need anything that I can deliver just write me. And any damned protesters that show up at any funeral here in Texas better beware... God bless you guys and God bless the USA. —John and family, San Marcos, Texas

Capt. Dan,

It was very touching to read your story. It made me recall just a few weeks back. I was thinking about the war, and your lives, as we live by Vegas in Boulder City, Nev., and how hot it is here. I have a 22-year-old daughter who is trying to become a firefighter and she worked the wild land fires this summer out here. Knowing all the gear she had to wear, and as a parent, thinking of how your parents must all feel having their child so far from home. I, too, had thought what a shame the loss of innocence. However, watching the TV last night special concerning Iraq and the Taliban, the news makes your jobs all the more important to all Americans. For that ultimate sacrifice, I thank each and every one of you. Our town has lost two boys, and I hope every day we find bin Laden, but I think we all know this will not be the end. Good luck to all of you. —Nancy Harteis, New Jersey

Capt. Dan,

After reading your "soldier's blog" on Foxnews.com, I wanted to send you a little encouragement. The last verse of "America, the Beautiful" is perfect for a 'thank you' to you and your fellow soldiers.

"Oh, beautiful for heroes proved...."

You are a hero. Your daily sacrifice is of hero caliber.

"In liberating strife..."

I recognize the hazards of your job and do not forget to pray for you daily.

"Who more than self their country loved..."

By sacrificing your time — time that could be spent in numerous other ways — you prove your love of country, dedication to our safety, and commitment to fulfilling the dream of peace and safety.

"And mercy more than life..."

As evidenced in countless pictures that have made their way back home, I'd like to thank you and your fellow comrades for your mercy and grace to those on foreign fields.

"America, America may God thy gold refine..."

You are our treasure — our heroes; being refined and tested only serves to make the luster of gold shine!

"Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine."

From my heart to yours... thank you.

I would love to correspond with you and try to send some encouragement from home. You are prayed for daily, not only by me, but by our nation. —Jessica Ormsby, Clearwater, Fla.

Captain Dan,

First off, as prior Air Force (B-52H Crewchief), I salute you and everyone over there in the dirt. I know that the one thing that I miss most from the military is the camaraderie that is fostered between everyone in the unit. I still shed a tear at each mention of a fallen brother or sister, regardless of the type of service. The people back home that forget 9/11 or the other time the WTC was bombed really do not understand the severity of what has happened on our own soil. Freedom of speech is not free, it has come to them at a price that someone else has given on their behalf. People would appreciate what they really have if they had have the chance to travel around and see just how people in other parts of the world live. Even our poorest poor have it better than some people in other countries. So I am quick to stand up and "enough" when I hear of the naysayers here bash what is going on. I think that we should have approached some aspects of the war on terrorism from a different road. But in the end, it is a road we would've had to travel, regardless. I hope you and fellow military servicemembers are able to complete this journey quickly and safely. Godspeed and good luck. —Spence Sorrow