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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thoughts From a Reader and Friend

Ascan is a frequent commenter here, and for those who don't know we served together for a few years in the 90's. Now he's still on active duty and stationed here in Virginia where I work as a civilian.

Last night he sent me the following e-mail, concerning the Soldiers and Marines who haven't received the attention of Bob Woodruff. I can't say what he has any better, so I'm just posting it. (I have edited a few things for flow at his request, but not content). My comments are at the end.


I thought this was an interesting story, making some great points that are not foreign to anyone that wears a uniform or has ever worn a uniform...or their families. I would love to read your take on it if you find it important enough. Kind of brings you back to Mr. Stokely.
I went to Bethesda for surgery on my face this morning. Listening to the news, I heard that Bob Woodruff and Vogt are now at Bethesda, but for some reason it didn't hit me that was where I myself was heading. This is the first time I've gone to Bethesda this early (arriving at the time most people are arriving for work). The guard at gate spent extra time staring at my ID, while the guard at the parking garage wanted to know about my appointment. The latter I figure is because people might try to park in the garage while commuting into D.C. or something...don't know.
In 2004 I had to take a Norwegian up for his broken arm and several appointments for the same. It was surreal seeing the Marines, young and old, with obvious injuries from IEDs. Back then I wanted to say something to them, words of support and/or encouragement. I didn't. That's because I knew that even after 13 years (at the time) of Naval service, I didn't deserve to clean this guys soiled underwear. The one I'm remembering so vividly was only a Lance Corporal, if I recall correctly, not some Colonel or General. At Bethesda, you walk by Colonels and Generals, Captains and Admirals without much more than batting an eye. But this guy, to me, was more awesome than any stars or spread eagles.
I've spoken to many flag officers of varying degree in my life, and I could have even met the current president if I would have switched security detail positions with another guy, but of all of the people in my life that I wished I would have talked to was the Marine sitting in a wheelchair in the Orthopedics waiting area. But what the hell would I have said?! No, he didn't deserve to have to put up with me, some guy whose number's never come up, never had to do any actual combat other than sit in combat systems maintenance central while the Tomahawks are being launched.
Those of us who join the military choose our paths for our reasons. When most of us start out, it's usually for very different reasons than why we stay. I joined the Navy specifically because my father had served 21 years in the Navy. When we join the service, we never know what fate may befall us. I could have very easily been sent to the USS Cole (DDG-67), or a similar fate could have occured aboard either of the ships that I have been to the Persian Gulf aboard. I'm proud of my service, I'm proud of the watches I've stood and hopefully the deterrent factor that we have by projecting U.S. force a long way from home. However, no matter how proud I am of what I do and what I've done, I just can't help feeling inadequate when I see those guys who join the Marines (or Army) full knowing where they're going and that the chances of something awful happening to them is very real and very high.
You know I'm not trying to take anything from any of us that don't serve in the immediate combat area, whether it be any branch of service, but those guys that go over there are just something else, whether they volunteer or not.

Ascan, my take on it is I admire Bob Woodruff for going where he went. In his new position as ABC World News anchor he could easily have stayed home and given commentary. And I feel for him and his family, like I do the military families who have sons and daughters injured or killed.

If there is any such thing as a "useful injury" his may be one. Don't take that to mean I wanted him injured, but being a celebrity he has focused some attention on areas we haven't seen it. As the UPI article says, last year the news folks couldn't find a story at those forward hospitals, or in Germany.

A comment from Bob's wife was on the news tonight. She said that she's sure he wouldn't be happy to know how much attention has been focused on him, and that he'd wish it were put on the troops. Maybe it will be now, since the media folks have suddenly found those worthwhile stories.

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Blogger Mike said...

I know some of what you're talking about. I still know people from another era that still have problems both physically and emotionally.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

You know I feel for the reporter and the cameraman. However, they were taking risks going and even more when they decided to pop up for a better look. (heard that on cnn may not be true that they were in the most dangerous area of the vehicle.) They are paid very nicely to take those risks. If our heros made that kida jack there would never be an empty uniform.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Good for his wife. Hopefully now the news will lighten up on him, and focus more on our troops. Sorry, and I don't mean that in a cruel way, it's just that our troops are the ones that are over there fighting this war, not the news. Just one person's opinion.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Mike, I know a few of them too, and it isn't something that is immediately recovered from.

Patty, I agree on the money end. I'm sure many more folks would be in uniform if we paid what ABC does for anchors.But that is a little unrealistic.

Stacy, from what I've been reading around the net, your opinion is not that of "just one person".

5:35 AM  

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