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I listened to your program on the radio the other day. You were speaking about a Korean War veteran who could not get the Purple Heart that was awarded to him and he ended up having to purchase the medal himself. That is absolutely deplorable, and he should send the bill to the United States government.

Many WWII veterans were never awarded their service medals for two major reasons. The first is that the brass for the medals themselves was not available during the war years, as it was used for munitions. So even if your separation papers listed your medals, chances are you never saw them.

Another reason that veterans fail to receive medals is that many service medals are authorized long after the veteran has left the service. I found that my grandfather, as well as my father (Army vet, 26th ID), were eligible for medals they were never aware of.

Every veteran must know that they are entitled to ONE FREE COMPLETE SET OF THEIR MEDALS from the United States, no questions asked. This also extends to deceased veterans, whose next of kin can make the claim. Some documentation is required, but in most cases a separation paper or DD214 will suffice. Since completing this form my grandfather and other family members, word has spread and I have been helping veterans across the country obtain their long overdue medals. — Michael

Col. Hunt: Michael, this country sucks in the way it treats its veterans, there is not excuse for it. Politicians are always using soldiers as backdrops and to make speeches about … and then forget them, hell discard them, once the fighting is over. We are only as great, or we are only as poor as the way we treat those who serve.

Given that Shiite Iran has been trying to get control of “Sunni” Arabia’s Mecca and Medina for centuries (I was in KSA mid 90’s-My HQ bombed in Riyadh in ‘95) and given that the Iranian influence is spreading west and gaining momentum (I was embedded with a “Public Order Battalion” south of Baghdad riddled with Shiite Militia; it took me four months to get them to get the commander to take down the green flag and put up an Iraqi National flag), what part do you see Turkey (the most secular Islamic country in those parts) playing in this whole fiasco in the next 10 years? Are they just happy to whip up on Kurds occasionally, or has the “new” Iraq alleviated that situation by giving the Kurds a piece of the pie permanently? Do you think Turkey or even Egypt can broker a “peace” that we are culturally ignorant of here? Can Turkey be the lynchpin?

We are a long way from those 300 Iranian Naval cadets I went to school with when the Shah fell. — Kevin

Col. Hunt: Kevin, Turkey could be the spoiler nation. As you know, they have a bunch (not a very tactical or military term, I know) of soldiers on the Iraq border now. Turkey has its own problems, with their military and they're not exactly happy with the newly elected president. The Turks’ military, like the Thais and many others, is the power behind the throne. If the Turks come across the border to play with the Kurds in northern Iraq, that will be the apple that upsets the cart. Turkey is therefore, in that case, the lynchpin. Moreover, few in our government outside the CIA are paying any attention to this.

Why do we not move troops from Europe, Japan and even South Korea to help give the troops in Iraq some relief? — Gary

Col. Hunt: Gary, many of those troops are support types or Air Force. We have commitments in those places and need the logistic and transport places in Germany and in Italy — and, by the way, there’s not many U.S. soldiers in Japan. I think a better call would be to cut the 25,000 in the Pentagon to about 5,000. You would get a streamlined military, a good thing, and the soldiers you need in places like Iraq. Yes, I know many in the Pentagon are civilians, but they get early retirement with full pay, a pat on the ass and their positions are then used to plus up the fighting force.

First, thank you for your service to our country. Second, thank you for being so truthfully blunt. Question: Why were the Syrian and Iranian borders never closed off in the beginning of this war? — Alice, wife of USAF CMSgt, ret. (San Bernardino, CA)

Col. Hunt: Alice, man I bet you have some stories being married to a CMSgt in the Air Force, thank you for being the “wind beneath his wings” (I know kind of mushy for a Army guy). Rumsfeld would not allow the CENTCOM/ Army to use the correct force size and General Franks lost his manhood and never pushed back, the end result is what we got in Iraq.

Are we becoming overly enamored or dependent with high-tech weapons systems, such as GPS, that it may leave us more vulnerable rather than less, against a more capable foe such as China? — Silverman

Col. Hunt: Silverman, yes, a thousand times, yes. We have not learned how to mesh the technology with our hearts, minds and souls — all three things needed for combat. Technology has overwhelmed our generals. Go to any briefing at any generals headquarters in any war zone and watch the 80-inch plasma TV screens come to life; the more senior the general the more TVs. Briefing will become all high-tech — very impressive and have nothing to do with killing bad guys.

We have forgotten how to read maps, hell we have weighed down our guys with so much armor and gear that the heat will kill them way before the enemy will. Our technology does not work against those who plan our deaths in caves. Technology for its own sake … bad. Technology matched to and in full support of a soldier … good. All the bad guy has to do now is pull the plug and we will be blind. We need our instincts sharp — not our computer screens clean.

I had two tours to Vietnam and I find the president's remarks right on target. You must have slept during most of his speech, as he was equating the lack of political will to win in Vietnam with what is developing now regarding Iraq. I attended many briefings at IIFFV and saw what damage and loss of life the political decisions being made back in Washington were having in the war. While the politicians were agreeing to holiday truces, which only the U.S. and its allies obeyed, we were merely giving the enemy an opportunity to resupply with fresh troops and more ammunition to kill us.

I don't know where you were or even if you were in Vietnam, but you are 100 percent off base on this one and should make a formal apology to the president and the troops. — Dave LTC, USA, ret.

Col. Hunt: Dave, oh this one I am answering. Thank you for your service and welcome home, brother. You have made my point. Iraq is like Nam, where you say the politicians were making decisions that screwed us up on the ground — they’re doing the same today in Iraq. I said nothing but praise for the troops and you know it, I did and will continue to yell about piss poor leadership, both politically and militarily. I got what the president was saying Dave, but I still think he was wrong to make the comparison for the very reasons I said. On yelling about your two tours in Nam, I am sure you are prouder of your service and saw sooo much more combat than little old me. Oh, and the apology thing, ahhhhh don’t think so.

On your recent article, "The Problems of Comparing Iraq to Vietnam and the Failures of President Bush's Surge Speech," I believe you are right on target. The big political question is: "Why did his advisors allow the president to go ahead with the speech?" Was it to allow the hunters to shoot the lame duck? If that is so, then the executive branch has conceded defeat in Iraq and concluded that the GOP will not win the White House in 2008. — Joe (Martinez, GA)

Col. Hunt: Joe, I think the speech writers and advisers and this presidents instincts have been out of touch for awhile. The speech in question was, for me, a desperate attempt to throw crap against the wall to see what sticks. The president should have talked about the real successes in Iraq and the necessity of getting the Iraq government to do their jobs — not yell about Vietnam. The only thing worse would have been the VP giving that same speech … then we would have had a draft dodger talking to us about Nam.

Our grandson completed Marine boot camp a week ago and is now enrolled in college. He was informed today that he may be called, at any time, to active duty to serve in the infantry in Iraq by January, after he received additional training. The agreement he signed with the recruiter was that he complete four years in college, then go into aviation training. How can the government renege on their contract to this young student? This is a terrible blow to him and to our family. Any answers will be deeply appreciated. — Mike

Col. Hunt: Mike, first your grandson is very brave I am sure you are proud of him. Now, I bet there is small print that says, “needs of the service or nation” or something. If he or you want to fight this, the only way is to get to your congressman or senator in the fight, otherwise the Marine Corp will not respond. Your grandson is feeling the deployment problems created by our wonderful Marines and Army service men and women being deployed into combat zones four and five times in five years.

My son is a Green Beret (18C) deployed at Fire-base Anaconda in Afghanistan. This is the base the Taliban tried to overrun last month. From what he e-mails me, they are really taking care of business. I keep hearing from one political group that we need to re-deploy from Iraq to Afghanistan. Are we getting ready to screw up Afghanistan, too? Thanks for your service. — Mike

Col. Hunt: Mike, the only thing holding Afghanistan is the guys like your brave SF son. We do not have the political will to go into Pakistan and kill bin Laden, we have ridiculous rules of engagement that are tying our guys hands — couple that with some of the worse military leadership in history, a opium trade in Afghanistan that has actually gotten bigger since we have been there, an almost totally incompetent Afghani government, police and military, and not enough troops cause of what we are doing in Iraq. You bet Afghanistan could go south, and will, if we do not pull our heads out or collective asses and figure out what your son knows — that if you let him do his job and back him up, there is nothing we cannot do.

Land mines have been "outlawed" for how many years now? Yet today the terrorist use IEDs (roadside bombs) and no one seems to want to talk about it. Would you compare a land mine and RID as the same or is there a political difference and the bad guys could give a flip about what the world thinks anyway. Let's not forget the Geneva Convention and Amnesty International and how they feel about RIDs. This country can not win if Washington and the liberal media play to political correctness. — Ray (Haines City, FL)

Col. Hunt: Ray, I get your angst about press and political correctness, but this administration is the one not talking about this subject or putting enough pressure on the rest of the world to help. We never had enough soldiers to even guard the massive ammo depots that we found when we took Iraq or manned the borders to stop Iran from supplying the most deadly of the IED. We know what the press will say and we know PC is everywhere, what we are missing is a government with the “nads” to fight.


Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.