8/24/06: 'Soldier's Diary' Readers Respond to Captain Dan

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Here are just a few of the most recent responses, as of Aug. 24, to Capt. Dan Sukman's 'Soldier's Diary' on FOXNews.com.

Dear Captain Dan,

While I am sure you get plenty of e-mails like this, I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for all that you and your fellow soldiers have done in Iraq. Here, I can only imagine the trials that you must go through on a daily basis. And while people here debate endlessly whether or not the idea to enter this war was justified, one fact has remained irrefutable and always seems to come back to me. The fact that you are there to give the Iraqi's hope and the country a chance of, one day, being at peace with itself. You are the good guys in this war. I know you must realize that you are doing great things, (and they are truly great things) but please know that so many people back home realize it too and are thankful for it. I will be sure to keep checking your Soldier's Diary and I pray that you and all of our soldiers stay safe and return home soon. Please take care. —Gregory Rizzi, San Rafael, Calif.

Capt. Dan,

I've been following your diary on FOXNews.com, and it's been quite the story. Although I don't fully support the war, I fully support the troops that are fighting in it. You wrote on August 14 that replacement units are coming in, I do believe that a close friend that I've known since seventh grade is one of them. I hung out with him on when he came home on his vacation a month ago. I guess reading your diary has made it a little more real for me, and your posts on everyday events makes me a little less afraid for him. Thank you for taking your time to inform the rest of us on what it's like.


Having served 20 years in the Navy (1964 to 1984), and had eight deployments overseas during that time, I know how you feel about returning home to loved ones. Those of us that have been overseas during time of war know about short timers calendars, and the anticipation in those last few days. I have really enjoyed your diary. Thank you so much for the good work over there. Good luck, and as an old sailor, "May you have fair winds, and following seas." —Mark Messer, USN Retired

Capt. Dan,

I saw your blog, Captain Dan. I wanted to let you know that your brave men and yourself have the full support of the real people in the USA, the greatest place in the world. You are heroes, and if you see the foolish actions and hear the idiotic blatherings of the weak-minded over here, pay no attention. The real truth of the long war coming with the Islamic jihadis will soon be apparent even to the most air-headed, even the politicians, and you will be recognized as the real maintainers of civilization by all. I hope you get your rotation soon, and it is all that you deserve, but as long as Bush is in the White house, as long as I can vote as a conservative, as long as I have children who need defense from the barbarians with their hate American agenda, you will have the support you need. I was Air Force Vietnam era, and didn't recognize it for what it was — a great privilege. Tell your men that each day spent in the force is a day that they will always remember for the sharp focus it brings on that which is truly important. One day they will be able to show service medals that only they can carry, and their war stories will be about real war. They are the ultimate expression of the power and exceptionalism that is the U.S. And no other nation can possess it. God bless you all. May you always be successful, May all your men come home, May you be recognized as the heroes you are.

Capt. Dan,

As your time in country grows short, I wanted to take the time to thank you for your service and your column. My Marine has been stationed in Ramadi for seven months and is scheduled to leave at the end of August. Your writings and his too infrequent phone calls have been a source of comfort and a constant reminder that freedom is not free. I remain convinced that the price for freedom is to spread its sweet taste to oppressed people throughout the world.

Dan, brace your self, the political bias in the liberal media and the anti-Iraq, anti-military downright anti-American reporting that goes on is stomach turning. It's also mind boggling. Will the left really sell-out faith, family and country to get elected? Unfortunately, it may be so.

Knowing that on a voluntary basis, young guys who are willing to stand up and fight to keep what we have built in this country — like yourself and my son — continues to give me cause for hope. I believe that there will always be a hard-core group of patriots who will stick to conservative American values unswayed. We are the land of the free because of the brave. I am forever in your debt because of your heroic service. —Mike McGuire, North Wales, Pa.

Capt. Dan,

Just like your recent entries about how the transition is accomplished, even though you are leaving Iraq, you will be remembered. In time, I may have to look back to refresh my memory as to your name but be assured that I will not forget all the soldiers' dedication, commitment, and courage. Your diary has made me aware that everyone can be a hero … if they try. Hopefully, many of the veterans will take an interest in leading the United States at both local and federal elections. Who will be the president in 2020? We need good leaders to continue our quest for freedom! God bless and God speed. —Valerie Michael, Broward County, Fla.

Capt. Dan,

My soldier husband is in Summerall [base in Iraq]. He is expected to leave sometime next month. Your quote, "you know he would rather be spending the time on the phone with his wife" who he has not seen in over 11 months. You hit it right on the target. Bulls eye!!! Civilians have no idea what the wives back home deal with. We live for our phone calls. And when the "phone connectivity" is so bad that we hear breaks in their words ... well it just is hell.

I enjoy your God-given talent. Not many men could pretend to be soldiers much less live with them and be able to write down on paper what our soldiers cope with every second of every day. Continue to write the truth and keep as much explicit detail as you can. Some civilians reading your work might actually "wake up" about the brave men and women soldiers and loved ones left behind. We do not have enough patriotism in or country. Where did the respect go? —Christila Cochran

Dear Captain Dan,

Thank you for what you are doing in Iraq, though no amount of verbiage is sufficient for your dutiful sacrifice. I am now a senior citizen (shudder) but I was formerly married to a Marine helicopter pilot. While we were married, he spent three one-year tours in Vietnam. They were long and hard for both of us. The first tour (1961-62) was 14 1/2 months. Our first child, Beth, was born during this tour. I wasn't able to hear from him for weeks. My communication on that one occasion was through the Red Cross — no e-mail or telephone. We survived emotionally by writing several times each week to daily. Letter would be stalled and then suddenly several would arrive. I would sit down and savor every word. I had to return to work when Beth was two months old, as a lieutenant's pay just wasn't enough even for humble living. The wife is in limbo, waiting and worrying about all of life's mundane needs and ever fearful that he could be killed. Our daughter, Beth was born on 1st Lt. Michael Tunney's (my ex's best friend) birthday, October 12, 1962. Michael's helicopter crashed into a mountainside in Vietnam on October 6, 1962, killing all aboard. When death reaches out and takes someone dear and near, one's fears are reinforced; life is so unsure — death so near. God bless you and your family and all those troops around you. —Patti Sousa, still a Marine at heart

Capt. Dan,

My son, Pvt. Bobby Joe Martin Jr., is currently stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., with the 10th Mountain Division as a combat engineer. He turned 20 years old this July. He is scheduled to deploy to Iraq this September. We are very proud of him as well, as all of the other men and women who so valiantly serve this great country. I do have fears about my son being in such hostile territory, but am at peace with the fact that this is something that he truly believes in and is so proud to be a part of. I pray for everyone's safe return and hope that we can soon bring peace to Iraq. I know that it will take time and a lot of effort and sacrifice on our military to pursue this. I wanted to say a special "thank you" to Captain Dan for all that you do and for who you are. People like you are an inspiration to all of us. We appreciate you everyday. Just wanted to let you all know that you are in our prayers and our thoughts daily. It is hard to know that my son will be away from home for quite a while, but I know that he will be in the best of hands. Thank You all again and may God bless each and every one of you! Go Army! —Linda Martin, South Carolina

Dear Capt. Dan,

I can only imagine the anticipation and excitement that both you and your family are feeling given your upcoming redeployment. While I am very happy for you and your family, I am slightly saddened to not be able to continue to read your diary. My husband is currently serving with the Iowa National Guard's 1-133rd INF based at Al Asad. Reading your entries helps me stay connected and gives me a glimpse of what life is like there for him. Congratulations and enjoy your reunion with your family and friends! Most importantly, thank you for your service and the time that you take to post your diary entries! —K. Ryan, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Capt. Dan,

First, let me say, thank you for your service and all of our brave service members now and in the past. Thank you for getting it out there that our troops have a difficult job to do and they do it well. And yes, their job is 24 hours a day. I thank God every day that my son, a U.S. Marine, returned safely from his duty in Iraq. He lost buddies, saw and did things a mother never wants to imagine her child having to go through such things. I have four boys and my youngest has mentioned the military and I discourage him from doing so. Not just because of the danger, but because I think our government officials and too many U.S.A. citizens are too soft. It sickens me that majority of media portrays what our troops and the U.S.A. are doing wrong, wants to prosecute Marines and soldiers for treating terrorists bad, for killing innocent Iraqi people. War is a horrible thing for all. But our brave troops come first. Their safety is first. Do I care how those held terrorists are being treated? NOT AT ALL! And those that mouth off against our troops, those civil liberty, liberal, everyone-has-rights people .... put them or one of their loved ones over in the battle, be forced to make split-second decisions, see your buddy blown up ... or better yet, kick 'em the hell out of the U.S.A. I have always been a very patriotic person. My dad was in Army, uncles in WWII, and of course when my son joined the Marines, no one could be prouder than me. You guys should be the ones making the big bucks. We have our priorities all messed up. Keep up the good work. I continue to pray for your safety and all our military men and women. God Bless all of you.

Rock on, Capt. Dan!

I pray and trust that God is with you every day. It is wonderful reading your journal. Your journal gives a clear insight into the daily life of our troops. After reading your journal I can close my eyes and imagine you are there, typing away, providing your newest journal entry. I am a daughter of a veteran Vietnam Jarhead, a sister of a veteran Gulf War Army CPL, granddaughter of two WWII Army CPL's (one landed on Normandy and survived the Battle of the Buldge), and wife of a Haitian Refugee Campaign Coastie. I would say that understanding and supporting our military is in my blood.

After reading some of the responses you have received I have to say that many Americans and other civilians across the globe state that they support the military, BUT, not the war. I would like to know HOW these civilians support the military? Do we Americans write to our troops? Do we send them care packages? Do we send you — our heroes — any taste of home? I think if Americans (and other nations) would start "putting their money where there mouth is" (so to say) that they would understand much more of what our soldiers do for us here at home. It fully aggravates me when civilians and politicians alike state they support you, however, they don't do anything to back up that support. How can you state that you support our troops, when you don't actually do anything? Military families can understand the support our troops need. It costs $0.39 to send a letter or a card via snail mail. It doesn't cost anything if you send our troops an e-mail.

I think that if we Americans really start telling our soldiers that we are proud of them, then maybe, just maybe, we really will be. This doesn't mean that you engage in political debates. It just means that you tell them you are proud of the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. Our soldiers choose to serve. They choose to serve so we won't be forced to, so there isn't a draft. That in itself makes all them heroes.

I started talking to one soldier (Army) in particular via eemail about a month ago. He was sent to Baghdad around that time (he was originally deployed to Kuwait) and he likes to here about news from home. He's told me, "You know the Iraqi's aren't much different then us. I have had the opportunity to watch them for like the last seven days and they are a lot like us. They seem nice, and I'm realizing that it's just a few not Iraqi's in general doing the bombings and other stuff."

I would encourage every American to stop giving lip service and actually start supporting our troops. It's easy ... start with the USO @ http://www.usocares.org/ or www.troopcarepackage.com. Keep up the good work. ou are awesome! God bless you all. —Amanda M. Cook, Michigan

Hi Captain Dan,

I belong to Soldiers' Angel and my hero sent me this e-mail "joke." It was very familiar to your 8/21 posting (from 8/18). I just want to say thank you very much for the extra time you make in your day to give us a bird's-eye view of your life. Several of your columns have helped me understand what my hero is going through when he can't tell me (ex. blackouts). Take care and God bless! —Kathryn M. Reeves, Ohio

How To Prepare For A Deployment To Iraq:

1. Sleep on a cot in the garage.

2. Replace the garage door with a curtain.

3. Six hours after you go to sleep, have your wife or girlfriend whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes and mumble, "Sorry, wrong cot."

4. Renovate your bathroom. Hang a green plastic sheet down from the middle of your bathtub and move the showerhead down to chest level. Keep four inches of soapy cold water on the floor. Stop cleaning the toilet and pee everywhere but in the toilet itself. Leave two to three sheets of toilet paper. Or for best effect, remove it altogether. For a more realistic deployed bathroom experience, stop using your bathroom and use a neighbor's. Choose a neighbor who lives at least a quarter mile away.

5. When you take showers, wear flip-flops and keep the lights off.

6. Every time there is a thunderstorm, go sit in a wobbly rocking chair and dump dirt on your head. (OK, for those of you who don't get this one — the idea is to simulate the effects of nearby artillery; the outgoing is even louder then the incoming)

7. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it on "high" for that tactical generator smell.

8. Don't watch TV except for movies in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch and then show a different one.

9. Leave a lawnmower running in your living room 24 hours a day for proper noise level.

10. Have the paper boy give you a haircut.

11. Once a week, blow compressed air up through your chimney making sure the wind carries the soot across and on to your neighbor's house. Laugh at him when he curses you.

12. Buy a trash compactor and only use it once a week. Store up garbage in the other side of your bathtub.

13. Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a saltine cracker.

14. Make up your family menu a week ahead of time without looking in your food cabinets or refrigerator. Then serve some kind of meat in an unidentifiable sauce poured over noodles. Do this for every meal.

15. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed and get to the shower as fast as you can. Simulate there is no hot water by running out into your yard and breaking out the garden hose.

16. Once a month, take every major appliance completely apart and put it back together again.

17. Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for five or six hours before drinking.

18. Invite at least 185 people you don't really like because of their strange hygiene habits to come and visit for a couple of months. Exchange clothes with them.

19. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.

20. Raise the thresholds and lower the top sills of your front and back doors so that you either trip over the threshold or hit your head on the sill every time you pass through one of them.

21. Keep a roll of toilet paper on your nightstand and bring it to the bathroom with you. And bring your gun and a flashlight.

22. Go to the bathroom when you just have to pass gas, "just in case." Every time.

23. Announce to your family that they have mail, have them report to you as you stand outside your open garage door after supper and then say, "Sorry, it's for the other Smith."

24. Wash only 15 items of laundry per week. Roll up the semi-wet clean clothes in a ball. Place them in a cloth sack in the corner of the garage where the cat pees. After a week, unroll them and without ironing or removing the mildew, proudly wear them to professional meetings and family gatherings. Pretend you don't know what you look or smell like. Enthusiastically repeat the process for another week.

25. Go to the worst crime-infested place you can find, go heavily armed, wearing a flak jacket and a Kevlar helmet. Set up shop in a tent in a vacant lot. Announce to the residents that you are there to help them.

26. Eat a single M&M every Sunday and convince yourself it's for Malaria.

27. Demand each family member be limited to 10 minutes per week for a morale phone call. Enforce this with your teenage daughter.

28. Shoot a few bullet holes in the walls of your home for proper ambiance.

29. Sandbag the floor of your car to protect from mine blasts and fragmentation.

30. While traveling down roads in your car, stop at each overpass and culvert and inspect them for remotely detonated explosives before proceeding.

31. Fire off 50 cherry bombs simultaneously in your driveway at 3 a. m. When startled neighbors appear, tell them all is well, you are just registering mortars. Tell them plastic will make an acceptable substitute for their shattered windows.

32. Drink your milk and sodas warm.

33. Spread gravel throughout your house and yard.

34. Make your children clear their Super Soakers in a clearing barrel you placed outside the front door before they come in.

35. Make your family dig a survivability position with overhead cover in the backyard. Complain that the 4x4s are not 8 inches on center and make them rebuild it.

36. Continuously ask your spouse to allow you to go buy an M-Gator.

37. When your 5-year-old asks for a stick of gum, have him find the exact stick and flavor he wants on the Internet and print out the web page. Type up a Form 9 and staple the Web page to the back. Submit the paperwork to your spouse for processing. After two weeks, give your son the gum.

38. Announce to your family that the dog is a vector for disease and shoot it. Throw the dog in a burn pit you dug in your neighbor's back yard.

39. Wait for the coldest/ hottest day of the year and announce to your family that there will be no heat/air conditioning that day so you can perform much needed maintenance on the heater/ air conditioner. Tell them you are doing this so they won't get cold/ hot.

40. Just when you think you're ready to resume a normal life, order yourself to repeat this process for another six months to simulate the next deployment you've been ordered to support.