GI SPECIAL 2#B85
HOW MANY MORE FOR
BRING THEM ALL HOME
U.S. Army soldiers during memorial
service for Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni of Charlie Co., 2-108 Infantry,
New York Army National Guard, at Forward Operating Base Brassfield
Mora near Samarra, Iraq Oct. 7, 2004. Uvanni died while directing
fire during a battle in Samarra last week. (AP Photo/Jim MacMillan)
"We Don't Belong
"Whatever You See
On TV, It's Much Worse"
Family Broke, Phone
Oct 6 BY R. NORMAN MOODY, FLORIDA
Displaying a "Navy
Seabee -- Can Do" sticker and wearing a blue muscle shirt with
"Navy" printed in bright yellow across the front, Peter Reid looks
the part of a proud Seabee.
The sticker is on a
motorized wheelchair he is learning to use.
Reid, a Petty Officer 1st Class, was
critically injured May 2 in an attack on his Navy unit in a military
compound in Iraq. Five of his fellow Seabees died.
A mortar shattered
his right leg and shrapnel riddled his body, ripping into his head
and destroying his left eye. With paralysis on his left side,
shrapnel still in his head and his right leg a long way from
healing, Reid struggles.
Now, he and his
family also must contend with the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne.
was restored to his rented home in Palm Bay and neighbors tacked up
plastic sheeting on the roof, but the stains on the ceiling are
evidence of the leaks that came when the hurricane blew off some
"It's just one
calamity after another," Reid said before lowering his head. "Please
God, quit testing us."
Reid and his wife,
Michele, must vacate their home to allow the repairs, but haven't
been able to find a temporary rental.
A television, a computer and a plastic
box sat in the middle of the floor away from the leaks. The Reids
wait and hope.
He slowly tilts his battery-operated
wheelchair back to about a 45-degree angle to shift his weight in
the chair and relieve the pain in his legs. A few minutes later, he
returns it to the normal position.
Reid asks for help from his wife, but
he doesn't complain.
After more than
four months in hospitals, the former heavy-equipment operator
struggles to lift his coffee cup and occasionally stumbles as he
tries to form sentences.
"I'm very lucky
both with what happened to me and the support I have," Reid said. "I
would not be here today if not for my wife and my son."
His wife, Michele,
gave up her job in a real estate office to care for him. Her son,
14-year-old T.C. Cavanagh, helps.
"It's tiring and stressful but its
worth it," Michele Reid said. "I'm just glad he's alive. He's
tough. I'm optimistic. I know he's going to walk again."
After 17 years in the Navy, four on
active duty and 13 as a reservist, 49-year-old Reid arrived in Iraq
in April with the Jacksonville-based Naval Mobile Construction
Reid, part of a
tactical movement team that escorted convoys and dignitaries, had
just provided security for Navy Rear Admiral Charles Kubic.
Seabees and other troops were gathered inside the
military compound in Al-Andar province when enemy mortar came
streaking in. There were soldiers, Marines and Seabees. Reid
recalls some of what happened.
"It was a motor pool yard," he said.
"We had just picked up Admiral Kubic. It was mass hysteria, well,
controlled you know."
A mortar hit the ground, but didn't
explode. It bounced, then hit his leg, he said. He doubled over
holding onto his leg and trying to protect himself by staying low to
"It was about the size of a
pineapple," Reid said of the mortar. "I grabbed it and rolled it
off into a hole nearby."
There were more mortars coming in, so
Reid did not know if the first one eventually exploded. Other
mortars landed nearby. Reid awoke in the hospital.
"It was horrific, horrific stuff," he
said. "Just not being able to help my buddies. That was the worst.
They helped me."
Up to 38 were injured, two still
remain hospitalized in Tampa.
Reid had volunteered to help with the
escorts. Though his battalion's
primary duty is construction, Reid said he saw few Seabees doing
construction other than working on improving their own base.
went on missions that had nothing to do with construction, he said.
"Every time we
decided to go to Fallujah it was rough," he said. "Men, women and
children, they all have weapons. You could tell, they wanted to kill
Reid went on 28
missions. Before each one he wrote a good-bye letter to his wife he
never sent. They went in his diary. She discovered them after he
The situation in
Iraq is much worse than the public sees, he said.
"We don't belong
there," Reid said. "Whatever you see on TV, it's much worse."
On May 5, days after the attack,
Michele Reid received a letter from her husband. By then she was
hearing of the attack on the Seabees, but had not gotten word about
"The Navy never notified me that my
husband was injured," Michele Reid said. "I knew something was
called up the chain of command and no one knew where he was."
As Michele desperately tried to get
word about her husband, he was already in a military hospital in
Germany. Through her persistence
and telephone calls, she found out he was being sent to
National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. She was waiting there
when he arrived after a week hospitalized in Germany.
"The doctors told
me that Pete wasn't going to make it," Michele said in a quivering
voice. "He didn't have any brain activity."
She saw the wounds
when he was flown to Washington.
"I dropped to my
knees," she said. "I lost it. He had holes in his chest, holes in
his stomach and 30 percent of his tibia was blown away. I cried,
screamed and prayed."
Reid spent the next six weeks in
intensive care. There were two months in Bethesda and two months at
James Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.
He was discharged Aug. 31. They
returned to their Palm Bay home just days before Frances hit Brevard
County, and evacuated to Tampa. Then Jeanne came, causing more
"He still has shrapnel in his head,"
Michele Reid said. "They can't remove it."
Muscle from his abdomen was used to
help rebuild his right leg. More surgery will be needed later. Metal
pins bolted to rods around the leg hold the shattered bones in
"Impress me, show me what you've got
going," occupational therapist Adrian Cahill said, standing beside
Reid grimaced, angling his left
shoulder upward, holding his breath, as he tried to lift his
half-closed left hand up to his chest, the tremor in his arm
"That's all I've got," Reid said,
"There's no real magic here," Cahill
said. "It's like having a trainer."
Reid's artificial eye sometimes
bothers him. Michele Reid has to help her husband remove it. She
washes it and, after a while, puts it back in and gives him his
A big-screen television that was a
gift from his mother-in-law makes it a little easier to watch TV,
providing him with a little distraction.
"Before the injury he didn't like
sports," Michele Reid said. "Now he loves sports."
As he struggles
to regain use of his arm and leg, bills have mounted. There's the
$1,300 cell phone bill from his time in the hospital. That led
the phone company to cut off the service.
Other expenses that
weren't covered by the military included rental cars to get Michele
Reid around while he was in the hospital.
Reid is eager to
get outside, but they don't have the proper vehicle. They have a
van but don't yet have a lift for his wheelchair.
Michele Reid said. "He just wants to go out to the grocery store
Baji IED Kills U.S.
A US soldier was
killed when Iraqi fighters attacked a patrol north of Baghdad.
The US military said a roadside bomb, which also injured an Iraqi
translator, exploded at around midnight near Baiji, 180km north of
the capital, on Wednesday.
US Soldier Killed
Near Fallujah, Two Wounded
October 7, 2004 AFP & HEADQUARTERS
UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND Release Number: 04-10-05C
One US soldier was
killed and two others wounded in an overnight attack on their convoy
near Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the US military
said in a statement.
An "unknown type of explosive device"
hit the convoy at about 9:45 pm (1845 GMT) on Wednesday, it said in
Three wounded soldiers were initially
taken to the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad where one later
died of his wounds at approximately 11 p.m. The other two soldiers
remain at the 31st CSH.
Of the surviving casualties, one was
said to be in a serious condition and the other stable.
During Hot Extraction
October 07, 2004 By David Stout,
WYNNE -- A Wynne native serving in the
Marine Corps in Iraq is hospitalized in Germany after being injured
in a military operation last week.
Sgt. Brent Slaughter, leader of a
special forces team, was injured when the humvee in which he was
riding struck a crater created by a roadside bomb detonated by
insurgents as the team was
conducting what was termed a "hot extraction" at an undisclosed
location in Iraq, Gary Slaughter, Brent Slaughter's
father, told The Sun Wednesday.
The team was
leaving the operation and the humvee was traveling approximately 50
mph when the bomb was detonated, creating a crater which the humvee
struck, the elder Slaughter said. All six of the team members riding
in the vehicle were injured, with Brent Slaughter suffering back and
hip injuries which have resulted in numbness in his legs.
Wounded In Haswah Battle
10.7.04 By Robert H. Reid, Associated
The U.S. command said 17 suspected
insurgents were captured Wednesday in two joint raids by U.S. and
Iraqi troops around Haswah and
Iskandariyah, both about 30 miles south
Since the operation began Tuesday,
four Marines, three Iraqi National Guard members and three civilians
have been wounded, U.S. officials said.
(October 6, 2004) WorldNow and WIVB
A soldier from Niagara County is among
the latest battle casualties wounded in Iraq.
Tonawanda High School graduate David Cooney suffered a serious eye
injury while battling insurgents in Samarra last
That same battle killed one soldier
and left four others wounded, including Specialist Cooney's partner.
Cooney pulled him to safety.
Wounded In Convoy Attack At Ar Rumaythah
7 October 2004 Expatica Communications
A Dutch solider was injured by a bomb attack on a convoy in southern
Iraq on Thursday.
The injured soldier was treated at the
mobile hospital at the main Dutch base at As Samawah. His condition
was described as good given the circumstances.
His convoy of eight vehicles was hit
by the bomb on the edge of the Iraqi city Ar Rumaythah, where 204
Dutch soldiers are based.
Apache attack helicopters and the
specialist Quick Reaction Force was scrambled to bring him to
Hit Baghdad Sheraton
October 7, 2004 (Reuters) & By ROBERT
H. REID, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER. Associated Press writer Omar
Sinan contributed to this story.
BAGHDAD, Iraq --
Two rockets hit a downtown Baghdad
hotel housing foreigners [try mercenaries] and journalists Thursday,
and gunfire erupted in the neighborhood across the Tigris River from
the U.S. Embassy compound.
Security guards at the Palestine hotel
said two rockets fired from the back of a pickup struck the nearby
Sheraton hotel, shattering windows and filling the main lobby of the
hotel with smoke and debris.
A resident of the hotel said one
rocket had hit a first-floor room and a second exploded moments
A source at Iraq's Interior Ministry
said three Russian-made Katyusha rockets were used in the attack.
Several shaken Westerners emerged from
the hotel, some covering their mouths with cloths, as workers swept
up shards from shattered plate-glass doors in the Sheraton lobby.
A huge crack appeared in the lobby
Outside, bursts of automatic gunfire
were heard in the street between the Sheraton and nearby Palestine
hotel, which also is a base for foreigners. The gunfire lasted for
about 10 minutes after the explosions.
The blaze was believed caused by
several rockets that landed in the compound, which is surrounded by
a concrete wall. A palm tree was set on fire and tracer bullets
streaked across the nighttime sky.
A bride and groom rushed out of the
smoke-filled Sheraton minutes after arriving for their wedding
"I made a mistake by booking at the
Sheraton. I knew something like this would happen. But I just did a
foolish thing," said Hayder Abdul Zahra, holding his shivering bride
in his arms.
One barefoot man was carried over the
broken glass by rescuers. Western foreign contractors
[try mercenaries], some
appearing stunned, were escorted from the hotel by their armed
guards said two rockets were fired from a pickup truck at the
square, where Saddam Hussein's statue was pulled down last year in
what became the defining image of his regime's collapse.
The pickup and another car were
destroyed in the gun battle, the guards said. The truck contained
more missiles, one security guard said.
Shortly after the
gunfire subsided, a new explosion was heard, but it sounded further
away - likely across the Tigris River. Warning
signs blared across the river from the area of the Green Zone.
Bomb Discovered At
Green Zone Restaurant
Oct. 7, Aljazeera.Net
BAGHDAD, Iraq --
An improvised bomb was found in a
restaurant in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, home of the
U.S. Embassy and key government offices, American officials said
The Green Zone, a sprawling compound
on the west bank of the Tigris river, has been a frequent target for
insurgents using car bombs, rockets and mortars to attack US forces
and Iraq's US-backed interim government.
The device was
found around midday Tuesday at the Green Zone Cafe, a popular
hangout for Westerners living and working in the compound.
A U.S. military ordnance detachment safely disarmed it,
U.S. officials said.
were "strongly advised" to avoid the cafe and other restaurants in
the Green Zone, according to an advisory issued by
the U.S. Embassy, which is
supposed to be one of the safest areas of Baghdad..
"It was an improvised explosive
device," said Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, using the military's
term for a bomb.
It was believed to
be the first time that an explosive devise was planted inside the
There have been occasional bomb scares
inside the area, which is almost entirely enclosed within
four-metre-high concrete blast walls, but which is home to many
Iraqi families as well as US, British and Iraqi officials.
Panic Time At U.S.
Occupation Has To
Use Air Attacks Against Baghdad IED’s
Oct 7, 2004 By ASSOCIATED PRESS
BAGHDAD, Iraq -
U.S. warplanes struck Baghdad's Sadr
City district overnight to neutralize roadside bombs that
regularly explode as American patrols drive through the area, the
military said Thursday.
fired into the district's narrow and densely populated streets,
which are littered with improvised bombs, said
Capt. Brian O'Malley of the 1st Cavalry Division.
Residents held a funeral Thursday for
a man they said was killed in the strikes, Associated Press
Television News footage showed.
US Unmanned Plane
Oct 6: AFP
BAGHDAD, Oct 6:
The US military said on Wednesday it
had lost track of a small, unmanned surveillance plane over Baghdad
as militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi's group claimed it shot down two
"One of our UAVs (unmanned aerial
vehicles), we have lost contact with it," said Major Philip Smith, a
spokesman for the army in the Iraqi capital. The path of the small
model-plane-sized Raven was last recorded at about 3:00 pm (1200
GMT). It had been flying over the Haifa Street area, a Sunni
"Who knows what happened to it," said
1200 U.S. Soldiers
Will Remain In Samarra Indefinitely;
General "Not Sure"
10.6.04 Patrick Kerkstra, Knight
TIKRIT, Iraq, October 6, 2004 -
As many as 1,200 American troops
will have to stay in the former insurgent stronghold of Samarra
indefinitely to prevent the city from slipping back under insurgent
control, Iraqi officials and American military commanders said
It is even
unclear how clean Samarra is of insurgents. Maj. Gen. John
Batiste, commander of the Army division that led the assault, said
"we're not quite sure yet" how many militants remain in the city.
Iraqi Puppet Troops
Mysteriously Missing In Action
(New York Times, October 7, 2004, Pg.
About 2,500 Marines and soldiers set
up camps and conducted night raids on Tuesday and Wednesday over a
wide swath of territory roughly 30 miles south of Baghdad, rolling
over desert terrain in armored vehicles, taking gunfire from
insurgents and uncovering at least two large caches of weaponry.
military said the operation also included Iraqi commandos and
national guardsmen, although none were evident during operations
west of the Euphrates River, which runs through the
area of the raids, northern Babil Province.
Update On The
Mysteriously “Losing” Paperwork On njured
Thursday, October 07, 2004 4:22 PM
Update on my husband Sgt. Tony Lampin; permission granted to
Mr. President, Vice President,
Colonel Short, America
Oct. 7, 2004
Today, Tony called me letting me know
some interesting things that have recently come up on his medical.
He told me that the
doctors there all agree that he should be sent home because his knee
is not getting better, that in fact it is getting worse.
It still swells, and now that he can only take one of his pain
prescriptions, Percocet, because the other, Ultracet, is making him
sick, his knee is really giving him more problems.
His last doctors
visit a few days ago was when he was told that the doctors told the
command that he should be sent home, but the commander of the 115th
Field Hospital, Colonel Short will not let him go.
Now, he has lied once again not only to my husband and his
family, but to the State Senators and Congressmen that have
addressed the situation. In the last letter that I received from
the AG, it states:
You may be assured your husband is doing well since deploying. He
has been evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon and offered alternative
therapies. In the event his condition deteriorates, the orthopedic
surgeon and Colonel Short will come to a decision, if and when it
becomes appropriate, to redeploy Sgt. Lampin for health reasons.
I find it funny
that now the doctors are saying that he should be sent home, but
Short still will not send him back.
If the doctors feel
this way, wouldn't that mean that they are agreeing that Tony is
getting worse? So why want Short keep up to his promise that he
would send him back if he does get worse?
Also, my last
update I said that his medical work-up there has disappeared.
Well, guess what, and no they didn't find them. For some reason
the new paper work has disappeared as well.
Where is his
paper work? Why is the new stuff disappearing? There are
only two people that can answer that, and that is Colonel Short
and the clerk that was or has been intimidated, but he will never
admit to it.
Tony also said that
his last doctor is writing an inquiry about him because of what the
commander is doing. I can only hope that someone
of the higher rank will read it, and wish so badly that I had a copy
In case you are wondering, yes, Tony
has been making copies of his paper work now. At least one of them.
COMMANDER OF THE 115TH FIELD HOSPITAL, WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF IF
YOU SEND HIM HOME?
165 Eubanks Rd.
Leesville, La, 71446
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK
OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth
- about the occupation, the cuts to veterans’ benefits, or the
dangers of depleted uranium - is the first reason Traveling
Soldier is necessary. But we want to do more than tell the truth;
we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets
of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for
Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class
people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter
to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed
forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join
with us in building a network of active duty organizers.
And join with Iraq War
vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home
50% Of Vets Now Say
Iraq War Wrong
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg)
The number of
Americans who say the U.S.-led war in Iraq was a mistake has
increased to almost half, according to a Gallup
poll conducted after the first of three debates between President
George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.
Among subgroups in
the latest poll, veterans showed the biggest increase in the
percentage who say the war was a mistake. Fifty percent of veterans
say the war was a mistake, up from 35 percent polled a week earlier.
The results show a
shift away from support for the war since early September,
when a survey conducted after the Republican National Convention
indicated 38 percent of Americans saw the war as a mistake and 57
percent didn't, the Gallup Organization said today on its Web site.
The Oct. 1-3 nationwide telephone
survey of 1,016 adults shows 48 percent view the war as a mistake,
up 6 percentage points since a Sept. 24-26 poll, Gallup said.
Fifty-one percent said the war wasn't a mistake, down 4 points from
the previous survey.
Do you have a
friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or
send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.
Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra
important for your service friend, too often cut off from access
to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and
in Iraq, and information about other
here in the USA.
Send requests to address up top.
Organize To Stop War
Families of U.S.
troops have long adhered to a clan code that prohibits speaking
out against a war. Now some are going public over Iraq.
October 6, 2004 By Elizabeth Mehren,
Times Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA — In Love
Plaza, about 75 people mingled in bright sunshine, chatting noisily
while one speaker after another droned on at a campaign rally.
Vendors hawked T-shirts, and children frolicked in a fountain
opposite ornate City Hall.
Then Celeste Zappala stepped onstage.
Standing between columns of red, white and blue balloons, she held
up the Purple Heart awarded posthumously to her oldest son. The
plaza fell silent.
In calm, measured
tones, Zappala talked about her opposition to the war in Iraq. She
spoke with pride and tenderness about her son, Sherwood Baker, who
was killed in April in Baghdad.
"Sherwood was a
patriot," Zappala said. "He was brave and faithful and loyal. He
believed in America, and he believed in democracy. And I made an
oath to him not to be quiet, not to be cynical in my grief."
Before her son left for Iraq early
this year, Zappala, 57, joined a group of military families who
support the troops but oppose the war.
Today, Military Families Speak Out
has more than 1,700 member families across the country who
participate in protests, appear on radio and television and confront
public officials. By telling stories about their loved
ones, they hope to sway hearts and minds and help bring an end to
At Love Plaza,
after Zappala finished a 15-minute speech that left much of the
audience wiping its eyes, an Army veteran from the Vietnam era
"For those of us
who have been in the service, I wish more parents would speak out,"
said Steve McCarter of Glenside, Pa. "This shows that not everyone
connected to the military is united behind this war."
For centuries, soldiers have been
trained to think as a group. With its uniforms and strict
regulations, military culture fostered an us-versus-them mentality.
The powerful sense of solidarity applied by extension to close
family members. In military
households, it was understood that speaking out violated the code of
the clan and carried consequences.
Though numerous groups of military
personnel and their families support the Iraq war, MFSO is the only
organization formed by military families who are against it.
_expression of dissent is "a new and significant development," said
Jeremi Suri, a University of Wisconsin history professor who is an
expert on antiwar movements.
It is a big
change from the 1960s and '70s, when opposition to the Vietnam War
was lumped in with contempt for the military establishment. "In
the past, groups related to soldiers have felt uncomfortable"
criticizing a war, Suri said.
But many parents of today's young
troops were raised in an era of protest, "and no matter how
quiescent they may have been later on, this has revived it," said
Roland L. Guyotte, another authority on antiwar movements and a
history professor at the University of Minnesota.
Military Families Speak Out took root
almost two years ago, before the U.S. invaded Iraq. Two Boston
labor organizers, Charley Richardson and his wife, Nancy Lessin,
grew concerned about what they saw as the real motivation for the
war. And they wanted to put a face to the troops who would be
risking their lives.
So they made a
poster with a picture of their son, a Marine who had served in
Kosovo and Afghanistan. The caption read: "This is our son Joe.
Please don't send him to war for oil." When Richardson and Lessin
took the poster to antiwar rallies and other political events, it
caught the attention of military families troubled by the war.
Last fall, Lessin, 55, and Richardson,
51, launched MFSO, contacting everyone on their burgeoning e-mail
list. Within 24 hours, about 200 military spouses, parents,
siblings and grandparents had signed up for an organization with no
dues, no bylaws, no board of directors and a headquarters at the
founders' kitchen table.
As the organization has grown, Lessin
and Richardson have hired a part-time media consultant in Washington
to help coordinate requests for appearances by members. The group
relies on donations for its operating expenses.
MFSO also mobilizes protests, such as
one by parents who went to the White House in April to deliver a
package of letters to President Bush.
Most had lost children in Iraq. A
White House guard would not accept the letters.
Members find the organization through
chat rooms and Internet searches, word of mouth and by hearing MFSO
speakers at public gatherings. New York lawyer Madelaine Strauss,
51, said she was referred to MFSO when she contacted a Vietnam-era
While her nephew was serving with the
Marines in Ramadi, in Iraq's Sunni Triangle region,
Strauss said: "I wanted to reach out
to someone who understood what my family and I were going through.
But I was also looking for a way to voice my opposition to this war,
which I am ashamed to say I was initially in favor of."
Strauss said she changed her mind
"once I realized we were operating under false assumptions, and that
the intelligence was bad." Her 19-year-old nephew came home last
No one at the Pentagon would comment
about MFSO. Spokeswoman Lt. Col.
Ellen Krenke said she was "unaware of its activities."
[At least try a smart lie]
The same weekend that Zappala
captivated the audience at Love Plaza, three MFSO mothers waited to
speak to two dozen antiwar activists at a potluck supper in a
Lutheran church on the other side of Philadelphia. One has a son
fighting in Iraq; one, a son who returned; and one, a son who was
They believe U.S. soldiers were sent
to Iraq to fight for a political agenda, not to defend America. The
three, from suburban New Jersey, also maintain that troops have not
been properly equipped for their mission, right down to a lack of
One of the mothers, Mildred McHugh,
said she felt the war was wrong when its stated purpose — to stop
Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction — was later
shown to be false because no such weapons were found.
But with a son in the Army, she
kept her feelings to herself, fearing she might cause trouble.
When her son
Steve was sent to Iraq six months ago, McHugh found her voice: "I
was just furious about him going to a war based on lies. I
thought, how much worse could it be for him?"
Besides, she said,
"if anything should happen to my son, I will know I did everything I
possibly could to protect him. And if I do not save my own son,
maybe I can bring someone else's son home."
She typed the phrase "military
families" into a Web search, and with no background in social
activism, the 44-year-old pharmaceutical researcher joined MFSO.
She wrote letters, appeared on radio call-in shows and pestered
senators into seeing her. McHugh said military families carried
credibility that public officials found hard to ignore.
She said her son
— a 22-year-old Army infantry private in Samarra, north of Baghdad
— told her he was proud of the stand she had taken. But, McHugh
said, "he is glad I use my maiden name."
Patt Gunn, 50, is a
Navy veteran. She worked as a military recruiter and volunteers at
the local USO office. Gunn said one of her biggest concerns was
that the troops were not well trained for their jobs in Iraq, and
that many lacked safety equipment. Although she comes from a
military family — her father was also in the Navy — Gunn does not
regard joining MFSO as crossing some invisible line of loyalty.
"My fight is with the current
administration," she said. "I am always very careful. I never say
anything against a soldier. The military is doing their job.
They took an oath, just like I did,
and they are absolutely following orders. It's just the wrong
Gunn's 25-year-old triplet sons all
joined the armed forces, but only one was sent to Iraq. Last
November, Jason Gunn was badly injured in a car bombing in Baghdad.
He was sent home to recover, then sent back to Iraq. The Army
reassigned him to Germany last month.
As she rose to
speak to the activists, the third mother, Sue Niederer, 55, pulled
out a photograph of her son Seth Dvorin. The 24-year-old Army
lieutenant died Feb. 3 in a bombing south of Baghdad.
"My son is home
now," Niederer said. "Six feet under."
The audience gasped.
Across the country, in Escondido,
Fernando Suarez del Solar also buried his son. Lance Cpl. Jesus
Alberto Suarez del Solar Navarro was 20 years old when he stepped on
an American cluster bomb near Baghdad on March 27, 2003.
Struggling to make sense of his son's
death, Suarez del Solar quit his jobs delivering newspapers and
working at a 7-Eleven and started an antiwar group for young
Suarez del Solar, who spoke almost no
English, called his organization Guerrero Azteca. He later merged
the group with MFSO, bringing dozens of Latino families into the
organization. He said he had no income, scraping by on donations.
He taught himself English and began
making speeches to encourage young people to stay in school rather
than join the military. At dozens of conferences and visits to more
than 200 high schools, Suarez del Solar has described how his son
joined the Marines because he thought it would help him get a job
fighting illegal drug traffickers when he got out.
"I speak against
the system," said Suarez del Solar, 48, who served in the Mexican
army. "But I support the troops. I support the boys and the girls
inside the military. Nobody touches me, nobody questions me because
I tell the real story, my son's story."
Although their son ended up going to
Iraq, Charley Richardson and Nancy Lessin were more fortunate. Joe
Richardson, 26, returned safely after six months.
The founders acknowledge there is no
way to measure MFSO's effectiveness. But Richardson said the
organization had a "huge influence" because it separated the
question of support for the troops from support for the war.
In addition, he said, "we have reached
people who have never spoken out before."
"For them, it is a big change. I also
think we have given some space for politicians to speak out —
praising the work of the soldiers, but criticizing the war."
The couple's efforts have been
criticized and they have received death threats. They have been
labeled unpatriotic, a charge other MFSO members say they have heard
"I think our definition of patriotic
is what are you doing to make your country a better country," Lessin
said. "We think we are doing the most patriotic thing we could do
in a situation where our leadership has taken us into a war that
should never have happened."
Back at Love Plaza,
Celeste Zappala told the crowd about the boy she adopted when he was
13 months old. Sherwood Baker grew up to become a part-time disc
jockey and a caseworker for mentally retarded adults. He joined the
National Guard in 1997 after watching troops do flood-control work.
of the Philadelphia Council on Aging, said her son saw the Guard as
"another way of helping out" his community. He assured her that
Guardsmen did not go to war.
Baker, 30, was
killed in a munitions explosion in Baghdad while
providing security for an Army unit seeking weapons of mass
destruction. He became the first wartime fatality in the
Pennsylvania National Guard since 1945. His father, Alfred Zappala,
64, who served in the Reserves and for 32 years worked for the
Defense Department, is also active in MFSO. Alfred Zappala traveled
to a National Guard convention in Las Vegas last month to rebut
remarks about the war delivered there by Bush.
Philadelphia rally, Celeste Zappala brushed a strand of gray-blond
hair from her face and fingered an album of family photographs that
she often brings with her.
"I think that
bearing witness is possibly the most important way you can move
people's hearts," she said. "People pay attention to me when I tell
Sherwood's story. How can they turn away?"
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Poisoned It's Own;
Contamination At Base & Did Nothing
(Washington Post, October 7, 2004, Pg.
The Marine Corps
failed to evaluate health risks after discovering toxic chemicals in
the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the early 1980s and did
not provide enough detailed information about the contamination to
residents of base housing, according to a report
issued by an investigatory panel.
Deaths In Iraq By
Race And Class:
Surprises In Figures
September 28, 2004 By RINKER BUCK,
Courant Staff Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- It's a bright,
crisp fall afternoon at the United States Military Academy, with
cadets in their gray uniforms filing out of classes through stately
stone courtyards, and rifle drill teams practicing on green fields.
All around, the Hudson Highlands glow pastel under the falling sun.
Day by day, as new casualties from the
Iraq war mount and are posted on a Pentagon website, civilian
Professor Morten Ender and Army instructors Maj. Todd Woodruff and
Maj. Remi Hajjar enter the grim statistics into the database for a
study titled "Is Iraq A Class War?"
Using sophisticated software and
models that allow them to parse endlessly the demographics of war
casualties, the West Point team will address the riddles of race,
class and military specialty that will allow the next generation of
Pentagon planners to assess the composition of the armed forces and
understand who dies where in battle.
preponderance of what we might call upper-working-class or
lower-middle-class servicemen," Segal says. "The numbers represent
economically distressed America, small-town kids with ambition but
no jobs who are using the Army as a way to get out and progress."
One study of American deaths in the
Iraq war has already yielded significant findings about race. Brian
Gifford is a researcher with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at
the University of California, Berkeley. His study "Combat
Casualties and Race: What can we learn from the 2003-2004 Iraq
Conflict?" will be published this winter in the journal Armed Forces
were way over-represented in the opening war phase in Iraq,
comprising about 16 percent of all deaths,"
Gifford said. "But they represent just 11 percent of Army and
Marine combat personnel and less than 9 percent of all active-duty
Other studies show
that in some Marine units involved in the heaviest fighting before
the occupation, Hispanic casualties were as high as 19 percent of
rates dramatically declined, however, as soon as the occupation
began and there were less-frequent, less-intensive battle
conditions. For this period, Hispanic deaths represented less than
12 percent of all deaths, roughly proportional to the group's
numbers within the active military.
Most experts agree on the explanation
for these unexpectedly high Hispanic casualty rates. The majority
of Hispanic recruits are either first- or second-generation
Americans with relatively low rates of educational achievement.
Their test scores simply don't justify placing them in relatively
select - and safer - occupations behind the front lines.
torn between two cultures, Hispanic language skills are more Spanish
than English and they're relatively educationally disadvantaged,"
Enders says. "They go into the Marines because infantry is the big
that blacks, who make up about 20 percent of all active-duty
personnel, represented 16.7 percent of all casualties during the
war phase and 12.2 percent of deaths after the occupation phase
others agree that a black death rate lower than their proportional
representation in the military is relatively easy to explain.
African Americans have historically regarded the military as an
economic steppingstone and picked relatively safe "support"
occupations - medical units, computers, air traffic control - that
translate well in the civilian economy.
"All the studies show that the
military was the first to integrate and is regarded by African
Americans as the most fair institution in the country," says
Woodruff, the West Point researcher. "So African Americans are very
savvy about using the military for advancement."
about 65 percent of all active duty personnel, and were
underrepresented in deaths during the initial war phase of the
conflict, with 60.9 percent of deaths. This probably reflects the
fact that whites serve in greater numbers in the relatively
protected officer corps, and also heavily populate the more
selective "support" functions far from the scene of battle.
But this apparent
privilege of race dramatically reversed itself during the
occupation, and now death rates for whites make up 70.6 percent of
This suggests that the randomness of
the violence since President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" -
the ambushes of military convoys, mortar attacks on rear command
positions, urban conflicts with civilian militias - provides little
safety for soldiers in elite specialties or rear positions.
But Gifford suggests that the dramatic
break in casualty rates for whites between the war and occupation
phases may be explained by other factors that should be carefully
National Guard and reserve units now
represent about a third of the 140,000 U.S. military personnel in
Iraq. The Pentagon's heavy reliance on National Guard and reserve
units has clearly affected another vital Iraq War demographic: the
rising age of those killed in action.
According to Enders, the mean age of
soldiers killed in Vietnam was 22.6 years old. But the mean age for
soldiers killed in Iraq is 26.3, with significant numbers of
soldiers killed in their 30s. To some degree this reflects the
demographics of the all-volunteer Army, which tends to retain
soldiers longer than a drafted force.
But part-time reservists and National
Guard members frequently remain in their units until retirement in
their 50s, and these aging weekend warriors are clearly having an
effect on the death statistics. Enders found, for instance, that
the mean age for active-duty personnel killed in Iraq is 25.4 years
old. But for the Reserve and National Guard dead, the mean age is
An additional and
salient conclusion can be drawn from the casualty statistics from
Iraq. The introduction of the all-volunteer military in 1973 led
to fears, often expressed by anti-war activists, that economic
factors would force America to rely too heavily on minorities, who
would then become "cannon fodder" during a war.
minorities now make up about 31 percent of the U.S. population,
and are slightly over-represented in the military, with a 35
percent participation among all active duty military personnel.
But minorities represent 31.7 percent of all military deaths in
Iraq - well below their numbers in the military. Whites,
meanwhile, represent 65 percent of all active duty military
personnel, but they constitute 69 percent of deaths in Iraq.
hear these arguments since Vietnam that minority Americans - blacks
in particular - are used as cannon fodder in America's wars,"
Gifford says. "What you find from this data is that this myth is not
October 07, 2004 By Chuck Oxley,
BOISE, Idaho —
Mike Schumacher is a nice guy. His
quick smile and chuckling gray eyes might even remind you of your
But if you have a
loved one fighting in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, he’s the last
person you want to see coming up your driveway.
Lt. Col. Michael Schumacher is the
chief of the personnel unit at the Idaho Army National Guard based
at Gowen Field. He has the responsibility of notifying families
when their military fathers and sons, mothers and daughters are
killed in service to their country.
“When we put on the Class A uniform,
which is the dress uniform, and we’re walking up to the door and
they see us, they know why we’re there,” he said.
Schumacher ensures that he and any
other officer who notifies a military family of a soldier’s death
follows strict protocols established by the Department of Defense.
The casualty notification officer —
the soldier who actually knocks on the door — must hold the rank of
captain or, in the case of a noncommissioned officer, sergeant 1st
The notification must also take place
within four hours after the officer is assigned to a family unless
that occurs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
began, Schumacher has personally served as the casualty notification
officer for two Idaho soldiers — Army Pfc. Jerrick Petty, 25, of
Idaho Falls, and just two weeks ago Army Capt. Eric L. Allton, 34,
“That was one of
the toughest things about this last one, Mrs. Allton, was that she
just crumpled immediately. She didn’t want to let me in. She said I
was lying about it. ... These are just normal human reactions to
such horrible, horrible news.
“She crumpled on
the floor, and I kind of crumpled with her and sat with her,”
Schumacher continued. “The tough thing about being a stranger is,
you can’t give any physical comfort, in fact, we’re told not to. We
can’t hold them.”
Once inside, the
officer is limited in what he or she can do or say. The Department
of Defense provides a basic script, which is memorized along with
facts of the death — when and how it happened.
“They’re not really hearing a lot of
the words. All they’re hearing is, ‘My son or my husband is dead.’
You say it in the most humane and compassionate way you can.”
It also gets complicated when the wife
or parent is not at home when the officer rings the doorbell.
There’s always a chance that neighbors will see the officer and
surmise what happened.
That’s a problem, Schumacher said,
because not every notification is a death. The Department of Defense
also notifies families when soldiers are critically wounded. And
sometimes, those casualties pull through.
Schumacher has to take care of his own
emotions too, but that often doesn’t come until after he leaves the
“The most difficult part of the task
is when you’ve finished. You just deal with the reality of what you
just had to do,” he said. “If it gets to be too much, I’ll just have
to start ‘sharing the wealth.”’
So far, all but one of the National
Guard’s notifications in Idaho have been done for regular soldiers
or Marines. But 1,600 Idaho National Guard soldiers, now training in
Texas and Louisiana, are scheduled to arrive in Iraq sometime before
Christmas. The unit will stay on the ground for at least a year.
Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tim Marsano said no military units serving
in Iraq have totally escaped casualties.
“We certainly hope
we’re the first,” Marsano said.
Scandal Knocks Down Air Force General
(Honolulu Advertiser, October 7, 2004)
pick to lead U.S. Pacific Command, Air Force Gen. Gregory Martin,
asked that his name be withdrawn after being fiercely questioned
about his role in a crooked Boeing contract. A
hearing earlier in the day before the Senate Armed Services
Committee was dominated by questions by Sen. John McCain about what
Martin knew about the Boeing contract and whether he was
stonewalling a Senate investigation.
Capture Of Occupation Translator & Killing Of Cop Chief
DUBAI, Oct 7 (AFP)
statement in the name of Iraq’s Ansar al-Sunna group says it
captured a Kurdish "spy" working for the United States and killed a
The statement said the militants had
seized "Kurdish spy, Lokman Hussein Mohammed, from Dohuk, a member
of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by the apostate Massud
Barzani" on Tuesday.
The statement added that "the spy,
who worked as an interpreter for the American army, admitted to
accompanying American forces during searches of Muslim households in
Ramadi," a town west of Baghdad.
The statement did not say what the
captive’s fate was, but Ramadi
police said Wednesday that they had found the bullet-riddled body of
an Iraqi interpreter with the American army just outside the city.
Day Of The Living
September 23 -29, 2004 By SUSIE DAY,
Gay City News
On September 8, the
number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq topped 1,000. That same day,
several residents of the Washington, D.C. area inexplicably reported
seeing what they described as recently killed Iraqis, walking around
the nation’s capital, window shopping, lined up at the Department of
Motor Vehicles and registering to vote.
In the Dupont Circle area, a young
man, appearing to be of Middle Eastern decent, approached Troy
Burns, a 39-year-old Washingtonian. “He had on this long, dirty
tunic-thing, and there were five or six small black holes in his
chest,” remembered Burns. “I write for ‘Six Feet Under,’ so I
immediately guessed what was up.” The youth, whom Burns called
“dazed, yet determined,” asked Burns politely for directions to the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “I was getting creeped out,” said Burns,
“so I went home. I knew the answer had to be on TV.”
Upon returning to his apartment, Burns
switched on his television and saw, live on C-SPAN, an older Middle
Eastern gentleman, addressing an audience of reporters at a National
Press Club luncheon. “You say 1,000 of your soldiers have died,”
proclaimed the man, whom the TV caption described as an unidentified
Arab who had suddenly materialized at the podium. “We are sorry you
have lost children. Please know, however, that for every American
soldier dead in battle, your country has killed, at minimum, ten of
our civilians. These people are among you today to claim the
freedom and democracy your president promised us.”
The man was later
identified as Faisal Ahmed, a 66-year-old Iraqi grandfather of
eight, who died in Najaf of an apparent heart attack when American
troops put a bag over his head to detain him. According to
pamphlets found scattered around the Beltway and major Washington
tourist sites, Ahmed is a spokesperson for the New Operation Of
Iraqi Liberation (NO-OIL), an organization formed to demand human
rights for the several thousand civilians killed in Iraq by American
forces and its allies over the past 18 months.
Although there are no reliable
figures, the Associated Press reports that various authorities
estimate anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 Iraqis have been killed
since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Amnesty
International, for instance, calculates that over 10,000 Iraqi
civilians died in the first year of conflict, alone.
But for at least one day, death did
not appear to stop these Iraqis from being seen—and heard—by some in
“This typical Muslim woman in a head
scarf comes in looking for her daughter,” said Alice Johnson, who
works at the Department of Missing Persons for D.C.’s Third
District. “I ask the usual, ‘Age? Distinguishing characteristics?’
She says, ‘Iraqi, black hair, brown eyes. My daughter was almost
four years old when I died.’
“I freeze—I mean, I have a son
stationed over there. She goes on: ‘I saw my daughter in the lap of
an American soldier right before your bomb went off. You find her
for me. My daughter’s going to be five soon. You people promised us
a new life.’ Ever since, I’ve been sitting here, just staring out
Not every encounter
with the Iraqi dead has been without incident, however. “These
camel jockeys just barge into my house and start carting everything
out,” gasped Norman Phelps, ex-marine and homeowner in the exclusive
neighborhood of Chevy Chase. “They dump my stuff on the lawn and
announce they’re moving in. They were talking about ‘reparations.’
Said we invaded their country, now we’re going to see how it feels.”
Such militant tactics, say NO-OIL
pamphlets, belong to the extremist fringe, and do not represent the
organization as a whole. The Iraqi literature also explains that
most NO-OIL members were killed accidentally, and seek now, through
non-violent means, to return to their families and live in peace.
Anonymous sources, however, have
indicated that the group has targeted for “liberation” several jails
and detention centers that for months have held Middle Eastern
immigrants on minor immigration violations. But when reporters
tried to verify these rumors, Mr. Ahmed could not be found for
Nor could any of the other Iraqi
deceased. Indeed, it appears
that suddenly, after only some 24 hours, the Iraqis have quietly
vanished. “They were never here to begin with,” stated Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, one of several Bush administration
higher-ups who continue to disavow the existence of the Iraqi dead.
“Or they were faking it. In either case, this is further proof that
we should stay in Iraq and finish the job. In the name of peace, we
may have to kill some of these people twice.”
Following this line
of thought, Pres. George W. Bush has ordered Homeland Security to
develop a new surveillance system that can detect the dead.
presidential hopeful John Kerry, whose support for a U.S. military
presence in Iraq is comparable to that of Bush’s, has called
Americans claiming to have seen Iraqi dead “sensitive girlie-men,”
adding that, even if recently deceased Iraqis were proven to exist,
they could not be granted protection under the Constitution.
Troy Burns, on the other hand, declares he is proud to be a
girlie-man. “Queer people complain about being invisible—at least
we’re alive,” Burns said. “I hope the Iraqis come back. I need help
with my treatment for an HBO pilot—‘Six Thousand Feet Under.’ It’s
about typical Iraqis and how they might have lived out their lives
if we hadn’t killed them. You think anybody will watch it?
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
Sadr Aide Set Free;
Military Releases 230 Prisoners From Abu G & Bucca
BAGHDAD, Oct 7 (AFP) &
The US military said it released some
230 detainees on Thursday from Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison
and the coalition's other major detention facility of Camp Bucca in
the southern town of Umm Qasr.
They were bused out of the infamous
prison under US military escort and dropped off at an Iraqi national
guard base in the Amiriyah neighbourhood on the western outskirts of
the capital, he said.
Among those freed from Camp Bucca
after almost a year of detention was Sheikh Moayad al-Khazraji, an
aide to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, according to one of his friends.
Al-Khazraji was detained nearly
a year ago along with seven other clerics close to al-Sadr who were
charged with engaging in anti-US activities.
The arrests triggered widespread
protests. The others have been freed.
Al-Khazraji's release could help in
negotiations to try to draw up a truce between US forces and
al-Sadr's fighters in the Sadr City district of Baghdad. "It would
appear to be a softening in the Americans' position," Shaikh Mahmud
Sudani said of his fellow cleric's release.
Dozens of Sadr's partisans have been
detained by US forces, including his spokesman Sheikh Ahmed
al-Shaibani who was nabbed along with 40 others in a US raid on the
cleric's office in the holy city of Najaf.
Karzai Running Mate
Targeted In Bombing
(Washington Post, October 7, 2004, Pg.
A roadside bomb exploded under a
convoy carrying one of interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai's two
running mates in the upcoming presidential election. The attack, in
remote Badakshan province, killed one man and injured five others.
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