Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Media's Message to Our Troops

Here is a rough draft of a speech I gave on Sunday, June 25 at the Army-Air National Guard Surgeons Conference in the Twin Cities.

Congratulations. You survived Iraq.

There must be something wrong with you.

You laugh, but it’s part of an anti-war, anti-U.S., anti-military message that the media is sending to our men and women in uniform every day. It’s a message that’s been trumpeted on the front pages of our daily newspapers and led the evening newscasts since just after the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York. The U.S. is bad; we must have done something to provoke this; you’d do the same thing if you were simply a devout follower of Islam trying to live a pure life in a world polluted by MTV, Xbox and McDonalds.

Of course, if your worldview goes beyond the myopic 24-hour news cycle by which these reporters, editors and newscasters live, then you know Sept. 11 was just the latest salvo in a global campaign of bloody, unmitigated terrorism that’s been waged by fundamentalist barbarians for at least 30 years. The Achille Lauro, Khobar Towers, Mogadishu, the African embassies, the USS Cole are just a few of the names that will be recited in American History 101 in 100 years, the way Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, Bastonge and Normandy are today.

But as you prepared to go into the latest battle in this truly global war of terror, the message was clear:

Saddam was no threat to us.

Iraq was not a safe-have for terrorists.

There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Bush is a cowboy.

This war was planned before he was even elected.

Dick Cheney’s behind it, just to boost his Halliburton stock.

But we support our troops.

Once the invasion began, you were told that this would be no “mop-up operation” like the first Gulf War.

We were up against the “elite” Republican Guard, part of the fourth-largest Army in the world.

These were crack troops, battle-hardened by the eight-year war against Iran (never mind that that was 20 years ago and some of them had been killed in a chemical gas attack that Saddam knew would kill some of his own troops).

U.S. bodies will litter a new “Highway of Death.” The media, paraphrasing Col. Troutman in “Rambo,” warned us: “Be sure and bring plenty of body bags.”

But we support our troops.

Once you entered Baghdad, you were told that it would be another Mogadishu. In fact, I think some HOPED it would be another Mogadishu.

As images of the Saddam statue being toppled were broadcast around the world by CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC, you were told that you would not be welcomed as liberators. These people beating the statue with their sandals, a sign of disrespect in Arab culture, were just a small faction of the population. The vast majority of Iraqis hated your guts. Yes, you’ve taken Baghdad, but now try to hold it.

But we support our troops.

Once you secured Baghdad, the media seemed to relish almost every car bombing, beheading and market attack, leaving the safety of the Green Zone just long enough to get their pictures and an incriminating quote from a bereaved loved one wracked by grief. Lost on most of them was that fact that they could return to the safety of the Green Zone only because of the presence and professionalism of U.S. troops.

Rarely did the news accounts look beyond the manipulative power of emotional grief and raw carnage to mention the body count of innocent Iraqi civilians that had been killed, a number that’s in the TENS OF THOUSANDS and dwarfs the number of U.S. casualties. But stop the average American on the street and they could probably tell you within a 100 or so how many Americans had been killed in Iraq. Forget that today, three years later, we still haven’t lost as many people in Iraq and Afghanistan as were lost on Sept. 11.

As you rebuilt the country that was mostly destroyed or neglected by Saddam during a 30-year terror campaign and only partially by your efforts to unseat one of the most brutal dictators since Hitler, you were told that you weren’t doing enough. Yes, there were days when the lights were on less frequently and the water ran a little slower in Baghdad than when Saddam’s secret police ran the place. What the media fails to report is that you’re building infrastructure in parts of the country that never had it. Saddam channeled all of his power, all of his water, all of his infrastructure to Baghdad, so that when U.N. inspectors came in to scold him for his 19th violation of the 1991 peace accord, they could have air conditioning and hot running water in their hotel and report that, indeed, all was well in Baghdad. Never mind that the rest of the country was, under Saddam, in the dark, starving and dying of thirst.

But we support our troops.

Of course, just when you thought the media coverage couldn’t get any worse, it did. The greatest disservice – the greatest insult – to our troops during this war has been the way in which the media has blindly – and vigorously – embraced the allegations to come out of Haditha. Seven Marines and a Navy Corpsman have been accused of murdering innocent civilians. Rather than wait for the outcome of the fair trial that these men clearly deserve, the media and some of our politicians have already convicted them in the court of public opinion. Adding insult to injury, the media and their allies at the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and other left-leaning groups have failed to accord to these soldiers the very human and constitutional rights that they’ve demanded for our enemies. Blast Madonna or Eminem into the cells at Guantanamo and there are cries of abuse. Behead two of our soldiers or blow up a market full of people innocently shopping for their dinner and the response is “What did you expect? We invaded a country that never posed a threat to us.”

For three years, the media had screamed “Why can’t we get Zarqowi? Where is he? One man in a mud hut is making a fool of the world’s last great super power.”

When we finally killed him, thanks to a coordinated intelligence-gathering effort between U.S. and Iraqi troops, the same Iraqi troops that are portrayed as incompetent, the response from the talking heads was a ho-hum “So what? You think this ends it (No one ever said you did). His death will just fill the ranks of the jihadists.”

But they support our troops.

I think you get my point. Moreover, many of you have seen all of this first hand. Many of you have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, come back, read the newspapers, watched the newscasts, read the blogs and scratched your head and said, “That’s not what I saw.” Unfortunately, that’s what’s presented to the vast majority of Americans – and, indeed, the world. But you and I know the real story.

Yes, Iraq is a place that’s incredibly dangerous. It is Ground Zero – an appropriate term – for a small but very smart faction of fundamentalist fanatics whose sole goals is to do great harm to us, our allies and the people of Iraq in the most barbaric ways possible. All to further a 9th-century agenda that seems not to bother the 21st-century progressives in the media.

All of this is a daily fact of life in Iraq. But as you know, for all the human carnage and destruction, there are wonderful things going on in Iraq.

Yes, the enemy is inflicting horrific casualties on our troops and the civilian population. But thanks to a revolution in combat medicine that has gone largely unreported in the media, soldiers who just five years ago would have been killed are coming home and going on to lead prosperous lives. Some are even returning to active duty. Let me read to you from an article, “Second Chances at Life,” that I wrote for the February edition of The American Spectator:

“Soldiers are walking on prostheses that wouldn't have lived before," said Lieutenant Colonel Clark Searle, an Army orthopedic surgeon who served in Iraq in 2003 with the 86th and 21st Combat Support Hospitals. "People are keeping limbs that ten years ago they would have lost."One reason is that the U.S. military has started giving basic first-aid instruction to as many soldiers as possible -- not just medics and corpsmen -- through a program called Combat Lifesavers. "We've made great strides in teaching a lot of soldiers first-aid skills," said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Place, deputy commander at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was a division surgeon with the 101st Airborne in Iraq in 2003 and 2004."That training is one of the reasons why more soldiers are surviving after being wounded," he said.Indeed, bleeding is the number one preventable cause of death in combat. If your buddy next to you knows what to do if you're hit, your chances of survival go way up. As a result, combat medicine used to refer to "the golden hour" to describe the all-important initial care that a soldier receives after being wounded. Today, thanks to Combat Lifesavers and some of the new medical technology, the talk is about "the platinum five minutes.""A major arterial bleed will cause you to die within five minutes," said Major Lisa Maxwell, a general surgeon who deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the 86th Combat Support Hospital. "What we're trying to do is focus more on point-of-injury care to stop the initial bleeding, and then use transportation to get them to a hospital."

Another advancement in combat medicine is a bandage made of chitosan, a biodegradable carbohydrate found in shrimp and lobster shells that bonds with blood cells and helps form a clot. There's another new bandage that contains fibrinogen and thrombin, clotting proteins that can reduce blood loss by up to 85 percent."Both products have been highly effective and there are many reports from the field where they have been able to stop bleeding that normal bandages have not been able to control," according to Army literature.

And we’re using this great medical technology to save the lives of Iraqis as well as our own soldiers.

"The military medical facilities take care of three groups," Colonel Place said. "Coalition forces, Iraqi civilians, and Iraqi detainees."
It is U.S. policy that Iraqi civilians stay in U.S. military hospitals until they're ready to be released or can be transferred to an Iraqi civilian hospital that can adequately care for them. Afghanistan is much the same way."Coalition hospitals are often all that's available," Colonel Place said. Indeed, many of the doctors who served in Iraq or Afghanistan said that upwards of half the patients in U.S. hospitals were civilians.

In addition to treating Iraqi civilian trauma patients, the U.S. and its allies have also set up local medical clinics where Iraqis can go to get treatment for everyday maladies."We've set up literally hundreds of public health clinics over there," Colonel Searle said. "It's a great story."

Not only do our soldiers and Iraqi civilians get cutting-edge trauma treatment when they first come into U.S. medical facilities, they also receive great long-term care. "Once we developed a fixed facility, we had ICUs, some very high-tech ventilators that saved a lot of lives, and we had intensive care physicians on the ground," Major Maxwell said. "Once we get past the golden hour, we have personnel to make sure they survive the next 24 hours. "To have an ICU in a Third World country is amazing," she said.

Of course, little of this is reported in the media, even after this outstanding emergency care network saved the life of a CBS News correspondent. The focus of most news reports on wounded soldiers is on the tragedy, not the triumph.

The same is true for reports on the very important work many of you are doing here at home, helping the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who may not have been physically wounded, but carry emotional scars from their tour of duty. In short, you’re doing an incredible job of taking care of our troops once they come home. That is the primary focus of this conference and you’ve already heard first hand from people like Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Keith Huff, Chaplain Morris and General Shellito about the incredible success of “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion,” the first-of-its-kind program that has been put in place for our returning National Guard troops. The program is such a resounding success that other states – as well as the Department of Defense – are looking to copy it. It’s truly one of the most positive things to come out of this war and something that everyone involved should be proud of.

Of course, that’s not the story that’s being told in the media. I wasn’t joking at the opening of this presentation. The focus and attitude of the media can basically be summed up in two sentences. “You’ve survived. What’s wrong with you?”

This statement reveals the pathology that drives the media coverage of Iraq. This was a misguided, unjust, poorly executed war run by a cowboy administration that’s being fought by a bunch of misguided, illiterate 19 year olds who couldn’t find anything better in the disastrous Bush economy. Again, like media reports on the advances in combat medicine, the focus is mostly on the negative, not the positive. You’re all just ticking time bombs, broken human beings hiding behind a steely fa├žade that’s cracking. You’re all just waiting to explode. And it’s inevitable that you will, in some way or other. But you and I know that the true story is much different. There is much to celebrate here.

The Minnesota program is comprehensive. It brings together the diverse fields of mental health, spirituality, psychology, job placement and training, family counseling, and education to offer a truly broad array of support services for our returning troops. Thanks to Sgt. Huff, Chaplain Morris and countless unnamed others, the program is helping families and communities across the state.

Andy Davis, a former Army Ranger, is literally transforming the state’s college campuses. The St. Peter native came home from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – including a 13-day firefight in Haditha in which three of his buddies were killed by a pregnant woman who was packed with explosives. He came home to the University of Minnesota to find not just a student body but an administration that was openly hostile to veterans. Through his tireless efforts, he shamed the university into giving space for a Veteran’s Transition Center that has literally changed the college experience for our returning vets. He has also helped a very supportive Gov. Tim Pawlenty craft legislation that is helping vets make the transition from combat to campus. Instead of feeling isolated and ostracized, vets now have a place – and a family – that makes them feel welcome. Davis also convinced the Veteran’s Administration to regularly send caseworkers to campus to help vets process their educational benefits claims, something that previously had resulted in high drop out rates among our returning vets.

How much of this has been reported by the Twin Cities media? Very little. Again, it goes against their widespread and long-held view that the war produces nothing but human suffering and misery. Nothing good could possibly come out of it. To admit as much would be to challenge their entire world view of the military and the people who are dumb enough to put on the uniform.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the success of “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion” going beyond state boundaries, it is reaching across generational boundaries, as well.

If the media has gotten one thing right in the past 30 years it is that Vietnam Vets are the true black mark on this country’s military record, but not for the false, hyperbolic reasons that the media – especially Hollywood – has perpetuated for the past 30 years. These soldiers were literally abandoned by this country. We deserted them, plain and simple, and left them to struggle with physical and emotional scars that most of us can’t imagine. As a nation, we should truly be ashamed.

But thanks to “Reintegration: Beyond Reunion,” we are reaching out to them, and in a small way making up for our past transgressions. In April, as part of my Pioneer Press column series, “The Home Front,” I wrote about Mike Clark, a St. Cloud native who spent a year in the Mekong Delta.

“There was no thanks, no respect," said the 59-year-old former Army medic who served nine months in Vietnam. "Nobody wanted to understand the experiences that we went through."Indeed, many Vietnam veterans came home to a country that was not just against the war, but also against them."I saw demonstrations with people carrying signs that said 'Ho Chi Minh will win,' " said Clark, whose legs were mangled by a grenade. "For Americans to be cheering on the enemy we were fighting and who were killing and wounding members of my platoon and other Americans was astounding."And sometimes hard to process."Every Vietnam vet felt the enormous social pressure," Clark said. "We were in a supposedly worthless war."Once the war was over, it didn't let up. Vietnam vets became a stereotype on television and in movies."They always had a Vietnam vet who was the psychotic villain of the week," he said.Clark spent the next 25 years as a public schoolteacher, but, like Maj. Gen. Shellito, quietly vowed, "Never again."Indeed, the two Vietnam vets have never met, but their shared experience speaks to the breadth and depth of "Reintegration: Beyond Reunion," the Minnesota Guard's program for returning Iraq vets. It is not only helping returning vets today, but also helping Vietnam vets like Clark and Shellito, who have been trying to come to peace with their war and themselves for more than 30 years."The experience was life-altering," Clark said of Vietnam specifically and combat in general. "It marks you; it makes you feel different than your peers."While their war ended 30 years ago, in many ways it never ended for some vets."I still suffer from my physical wounds as well as the invisible wounds that are called PTSD" (post-traumatic stress disorder), Clark said.But thanks to public awareness of the Guard program, some vets are opening age-old emotional wounds and re-examining how they dealt with their post-combat stress."PTSD doesn't mean you're crazy," said Clark, echoing the most important message the Guard is sending to its combat vets today. "It's just the trauma of the events you've experienced."

That is indeed a message that the Guard is sending to our returning troops today. I hope they’re listening, because it’s the most important message of the program. Anxiety, feelings of loss, disorientation, feeling like you don’t fit in. These things are all normal for someone who has experienced combat, something that is by all means not normal. I truly hope that message is being heard – and understood – in the community. Because the last thing we want to do is abandon another generation of Mike Clarks.

So let me close with this: You’re not crazy. The mission you’re doing is noble. You’re doing it with pride and professionalism in some of the most challenging conditions soldiers have ever faced. And, regardless of what the media says, you’re winning.

You may not be widely revered as heroes today, but I have no doubt that you will be fairly judged by history. But if you ever doubt that what you’ve done is honorable and just, I’d tell you to heed another piece of advice repeated often in Minnesota’s reintegration program. Call your bunker buddy. Call the person who watched your back for a year. The one you trusted with your life like no other. The one with whom you built a bond that, in many ways, is stronger than the one you have with your spouse or your children. Call them and ask if you did the right thing. Ask if you truly made a difference. I doubt you’ll even have to ask the question. Just hearing them say “hello” will be enough.

Thank you.

Different Opinion

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Worth a Listen

If you're around Sunday night, I'd encourage you to listen to the replay of my weekly radio show, "The Patriot Insider," from 7-9 p.m. CDT. You can listen online at
My guest the first hour is Andy Davis, former Army Ranger who fought in Haditha, the terrorist snake pit that is currently in the news. You'll hear the other half of the story, which is mostly being ignored by the media.
As Davis explains, Haditha is at the center of the terrorist pipeline from Lebanon and Syria. There are daily firefights there between Al Qaeda and Coalition forces. Davis and his 150-man Ranger platoon went in there in 2003 for what was supposed to be a six-hour mission to secure the road across the Haditha Dam, one of the only main highways that crosses the Tigris and Euphrates north of Baghdad. 13 days later, they temporarily secured the area. During the fighting, three of Davis's buddies were killed when a pregnant woman detonated herself and took them with her.
Imagine the scenario had been different. Imagine that the Rangers had recognized her as a threat and killed her before she had a chance to blow up herself and them. These Rangers could very well be the soldiers on trial now for "committing atrocities" in Haditha.
It's a compelling 45 minutes of radio. Davis also talks about the challenges soldiers face as they come back from Iraq and try and reintegrate into a society that's often openly hostile to the war and indifferent to the challenges our soldiers face. Particularly on our college campuses.

alcohol tests, drug tests

Friday, June 02, 2006

Thoughts on Haditha

Below is the latest story from The Washington Post on the alleged killing of civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq. I've been waiting to comment on this because 1. These guys deserve a full and fair hearing before the entire nation passes judgment on them; 2. I know a little bit about Haditha and what a terrorist hell hole it is; 3. Who knows what evidence hasn't come to light yet -- or been misreported by the mainstream media.
These last two points are important. Many people probably hadn't heard of Haditha before the latest news cycle. I know a little bit about it because Andy Davis, the former Army Ranger who shamed the University of Minnesota administration into helping him set up a Veteran's Transition Center, fought there. In fact, it was one of the earliest -- and bloodiest -- encounters of the war.
According to Davis, his Ranger Battallion was sent in to secure the Haditha Dam after a large weapons cache was found near there. Haditha had already been -- and continues to be -- the site of almost daily firefights between Coalition Forces and the bad guys. Why? Because it is one of the few major highways that crosses the Tigris River north of Baghdad. As a result, it's the Iraqi equivalent of the Ho Chi Ming Trail for bringing supplies from Syria to the insurgents, many of whom call Haditha "home."
Davis' unit was equipped and prepared for a six-hour mission, securing the perimeter while the Combat Engineers went in and blew up the weapons cache. Two weeks later, they were still there. It was some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The Rangers and other units had to be re-supplied by helicopter. After nearly two weeks, the U.S. forces managed to secure the area -- temporarily. Haditha remains a hotbed of terrorist activity today.
Of course, all of this is lost on most of the reporters covering this story. All they know is that some U.S. Marines are accused of commiting atrocities and that's a hell of a story. For the anti-war crowd back home, this is Iraq's Mai Lai. Or at least they hope it is.
But let's step back from the fever pitch of the 24 hour news cycle and look at this. First off, I would ask what other country would not only investigate reports of soldier misconduct in an area swarming with terrorists, but prosecute them as well? It's a short list.
How many genocide trials have we read about in Moscow, prosecuting soldiers from the fighting in Chechnya? And what about our Canadian friends? Didn't they cover up atrocities by an airborne unit in Rwanda? And forget the Iraq regime we just ousted. Saddam Hussein not only didn't flinch at gassing his own people, he didn't hesitate at gassing his own troops when battlefield commanders told him that winds were unfavorable and some of his own soldiers would be killed during a chemical-weapons attack on Iranian forces during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Secondly, even if the alleged misconduct at Haditha took place, let's try and keep this in context. It is but one incident among many thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of raids, house-clearings, and firefights that our soldiers have engaged in without a hint of scandal. I often make this point when debating gun control. Yes, the murder rates in places like Washington, Denver and L.A. are disturbing (and higher than the death rates in Iraq, I may add), but before you can blame firearms, you have to look at it in the broader context of all the rounds that are fired without incident. While the media tends to focus on every homicide and hunting accident, they do so without context. They ignore the fact that millions -- if not billions -- of rounds are fired safely every year on gun ranges, hunting trips and in competition. Yes, 1,000 deaths a year -- the peak for New York City -- is a tragedy, but when viewed in a broader context it takes on a completely different complexion.
So when we look at stories like Haditha and Abu Ghraib, we should keep it in context. These are isolated incidents, statistical anomolies if you will, amid the hundreds of thousands of other incursions and engagements conducted by our troops.
What makes this all the more disturbing is that we're not only all-too-eager to investigate any hint of improper behavior by our troops in Iraq, but we almost condemn them in the court of public opinion before all the facts are in. Given all the scorn and questions and controversy that has been heaped upon our troops from the very start of the war, the incredibly challenging environment in which they're fighting, and the fact that some are on their third and fourth tours, it just makes you marvel at them all the more.
The Washington Post, New York Times and others can condemn these guys all they want. But until they receive the full and fair trial to which they're entitled, I say, "Semper Fi, Mac."

May 31, 2006
Military Inquiry Said to Oppose Account of Raid
WASHINGTON, May 30 — A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.
Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines' story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.
The investigation, which was led by Col. Gregory Watt, an Army officer in Baghdad, also raised questions about whether the marines followed established rules for identifying hostile threats when they assaulted houses near the site of a bomb attack, which killed a fellow marine.
The three-week inquiry was the first official investigation into an episode that was first uncovered by Time magazine in January and that American military officials now say appears to have been an unprovoked attack by the marines that killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The results of Colonel Watt's investigation, which began on Feb. 14, have not previously been disclosed.
"There were enough inconsistencies that things didn't add up," said the senior official, who was briefed on the conclusions of Colonel Watt's preliminary investigation.
The official agreed to discuss the findings only after being promised anonymity. The findings have not been made public, and the Pentagon and the Marines have refused to discuss the details of inquiries now underway, saying that to do so could compromise the investigation.
When Colonel Watt described the findings to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the senior ground commander in Iraq, on March 9, they raised enough questions about the marines' veracity that General Chiarelli referred the matter to the senior Marine commander in Iraq, who ordered a criminal investigation that officials say could result in murder charges being brought against members of the unit.
Colonel Watt's findings also prompted General Chiarelli to order a parallel investigation into whether senior Marine officers and enlisted personnel had attempted to cover up what happened.
Colonel Watt's inquiry included interviews with marines believed to have been involved in the killings, as well as with senior officers in the unit, the Third Battalion of the First Marine Regiment.
Among them were Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, whom officials had said was one of the senior noncommissioned officers on the patrol, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the battalion commander, the senior official said. Colonel Chessani was relieved of his command in April, after the unit returned from Iraq.
In their accounts to Colonel Watt, the marines said they took gunfire from the first of five residences they entered near the bomb site, according to the senior military official.
The official said the marines had recalled hearing "a weapon being prepared to be used against them."
Colonel Watt also reviewed payments totaling $38,000 in cash made within weeks of the shootings to families of victims.
In an interview Tuesday, Maj. Dana Hyatt, the officer who made the payments, said he was told by superiors to compensate the relatives of 15 victims, but was told that rest of those killed had been deemed to have committed hostile acts, leaving their families ineligible for compensation.
After the initial payments were made, however, those families demanded similar payments, insisting their relatives had not attacked the marines, Major Hyatt said.
Major Hyatt said he was authorized by Colonel Chessani and more senior officers at the marines' regimental headquarters to make the payments to relatives of 15 victims.
Colonel Chessani "was part of the chain of command that gives the approval," Major Hyatt said.
"Even when he signs off on it," the major added, "it still has to go up to" the unit's regimental headquarters.
Colonel Chessani declined to comment on Tuesday when visited at his home at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The list of 15 victims deemed to be noncombatants was put together by intelligence personnel attached to the battalion, Major Hyatt said. Those victims were related to a Haditha city council member, he said. The American military sometimes pays compensation to relatives of civilian victims.
The relatives of each victim were paid a total of $2,500, the maximum allowed under Marine rules, along with $250 payments for two children who were wounded. Major Hyatt said he also compensated the families for damage to two houses.
"I didn't say we had made a mistake," Major Hyatt said, describing what he had told the city council member who was representing the victims. "I said I'm being told I can make payments for these 15 because they were deemed not to be involved in combat."
The military began its examination of the killings only after Time magazine presented the full findings of its investigation to a military spokesman in Baghdad in early February.
General Chiarelli, an Army officer who took command of American ground forces in Iraq in January, learned soon after the spokesman was notified that the Marines had not investigated the incident, according to the senior military official.
On Tuesday, the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said President Bush first became aware of the episode after the Time magazine inquiry, when he was briefed by Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser. "When this comes out, all the details will be made available to the public, so we'll have a picture of what happened," Mr. Snow said.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Capt. Nathanael Doring

Marine 'pursued a dream to fly'
Pilot, 31, dies in Iraq copter crash
Pioneer Press
After college, Nathanael Doring followed his dreams of flying and landed in the Marines, where the 31-year-old Apple Valley man met the second love of his life: his wife. The two served as captains in Iraq, and in April, he extended his second tour of duty so he could return to the U.S. this summer, shortly before she would.
Nathanael Doring, who flew attack helicopters with the Marines, died this past weekend when his AH-1 Cobra crashed into a deep lake about 45 miles west of Baghdad.
Searchers recovered his body from the cockpit Monday, along with that of a 25-year-old corporal, and their families were notified of their deaths. The accident happened during a routine maintenance test flight near an airbase and was not combat related, according to the military.
The cause of the crash is still undetermined, Doring's family said. He was the 32nd Minnesota military member to die in the Iraq war.
Cara Skoglund said her younger brother looked forward to returning to the United States in August and planned to spend time with Alexander, his 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. The boy, who lives in Maryland with his mother, learned Tuesday of Doring's death.
Skoglund and other family members remembered Doring as an independent spirit who loved the camaraderie of the military. Soccer and aviation were his greatest passions, which he took to early. While still a student at Apple Valley High School, he completed ground classes in aviation and played soccer or served as a referee.
He later attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering, graduating with honors in electrical engineering in the late 1990s before joining the U.S. Marine Corps.
"Everything he did was his own path," said Jim Doring, Nathanael Doring's father, standing with Doring's older sister and younger brother Wednesday outside the family's Apple Valley home.
Marine Capt. Lisa Christenson Doring will accompany her husband's casket back to the U.S. this week, where he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial service has been tentatively scheduled for June 10 at the Berea Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights.
The two married three years ago in a ceremony at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
During the opening salvos of the war, Doring's squadron launched operations from Kuwait into Iraq. He was among the 24 pilots of Helicopter Squadron-369 who received air medals in June 2004 for their extensive missions in combat zones.
The twin-engine AH-1W Super Cobra, the latest version of an aircraft that first saw service in Vietnam, is used by the Marines for attacking armor, armed escort and reconnaissance, among other duties.
Doring's uncle, Rich Gamble of Inver Grove Heights, said he recalled a young man who was quiet and devoted.
"He pursued a dream to fly and was able to accomplish that," said Gamble. "He was dedicated to that and dedicated to what he was doing."
Gamble said Doring believed the U.S. involvement in Iraq was a good thing.
"From his perspective, I know he believed they were helping the people in Iraq," he said.
Doring had already completed two tours of duty in Iraq and his unit had returned to Camp Pendleton in April, his uncle said. But because his wife still was serving in Iraq, he decided to stay in the Middle East.
Since his unit was stateside, Doring was assigned to act as a liaison between the military and defense contractors operating unmanned aerial vehicles, which are widely used in Iraq for surveillance and reconnaissance.
"He was flying these other missions for flight time, basically," Gamble said. "It wasn't part of his regular duties."
Doring's helicopter crashed Saturday into the deep water of a large lake near the Al Taqaddum airbase, the military said. Because special equipment had to be moved to the scene to search for and recover the helicopter, it wasn't until Monday — two days after the crash — that Doring's death was confirmed.
32: Minnesota military members killed in Iraq
53: Wisconsin military members killed in Iraq

stop and think for a minute

The war in Iraq?

mommy1 ask q. on Yahoo Answers:
Is it okay to not agree with the war, but to support the soldiers who are and have been over there risking and losing their lives? I support our troops in every way, and i was told that you cant support the troops and not the war. I was just wanting someone elses opinion on that. My boyfriend served for over a year in Iraq, and he is my hero. All of them are, and it makes me mad when i hear people griping about them, and how they are killing innocent people. But i never hear about how many Americans have lost their lives over there. Thank you to all of the soldiers, God Bless You.

okay, my boyfriend did choose to join the military, yes he signed the papers, but it was not his, or anyone elses choice, to go fight for something that they didnt believe in. Its not their fault that our government is like it is, and if it wasnt for all of the people in the military, then where would we be now. I think it takes a really brave person to sign up. And as far as the Iraqi people dying, they are trying to kill our soldiers, no, not all of them are, but its the same way with America, how many lives have been lost in Iraqi soil? How many families have lost their loved ones for a cause that none of us can help???

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker from gentleone:
I say it is perfectly ok to disagree with the war and still be in support of the troops. I personally believe this war was a huge mistake, and did even before it began. People seem to think that this is not possible. These people need to realize that it is part of being in a true democracy to be able to disagree with our leaders' choices and actions. If we had to support our president's actions unconditionally, we would be living in a totalitarian society. Do you all really want that?

My Dad was professional soldier and served in Vietnam---an extremely unpopular war. Many people were against it, but they shouldn't be against men like my father and the troops serving in Iraq now, because they are merely doing their job.

Other Answers:
In my thoughts, honestly, how can you support your own troops and NOT support their efforts FOR the war? It just doesn't make sense. Whether or not you AGREE, I fully believe that every American should at least support the troops because this will demonstrate their patriotism and their troop's war EFFORTS.

Most importantly, thanks to Shaun, Jeremy, Justin, Nole, and Ruben for risking your lives to defend Freedom. :)

i agree with you... you are 100% right about that, it is stupid how people say that you can't support the troops, and not support the war, i think you can because you can think that the war is going on for a stupid reason or something and have the knowledge that you as a person wouldn't have enough courage to stand on the front lines...

it's kinda like you don't like it, but it's happening anyway so why try to fight it ya know?

And uhh, minuteman... we don't know if it was Iraq on 9/11, at first the prez said it was Afghanistan...