I am composing a post that will tell more about this subject. Even as I type this in Republican Headquarters, Rhonda is being interviewed by WVAW-ABC Channel 16 out of Charlottesville. It will be televised tonight on Adelphia Channels 3 & 18 (11 p.m.) and Channel 19 (10 p.m.) . The following is the press release from the George Allen campaign.
ARLINGTON, VA – Jim Webb yesterday attacked Senator George Allen for honoring the memory of a Virginia woman’s Marine son, who died in Iraq, in speeches across the Commonwealth. Webb told the Washington Post that “he is offended by Allen's repeated mentions of the death of a constituent's son in Iraq.” (Mike Shear and Tim Craig, “Webb Leery of Using Service for Campaign; Veteran Blasts Allen's Public Comments”, Washington Post, October 18, 2006)
The Marine mother is Rhonda Winfield, a resident of Stuarts Draft, whose son, Lance Corporal Jason Redifer, died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on January 31, 2005. She “gave Allen [her son’s] dog tags after he wrote a personal note upon her son's death. She said she has encouraged Allen to talk about Jason. ‘He is my voice in a way I cannot be,’ she said, adding that the dog tags are a ‘reminder that these are real people. They are not just figures. They are not just numbers. They are real, American lives.’” (Mike Shear and Tim Craig, “Webb Leery of Using Service for Campaign; Veteran Blasts Allen's Public Comments”, Washington Post, October 18, 2006)
In the interview Webb said, "I don't think it's right to use somebody's service directly for a political reason," Webb said. "When [Allen] talks about the validity of the effort in terms of an individual who was killed in Iraq, I think that's wrong." (Mike Shear and Tim Craig, “Webb Leery of Using Service for Campaign; Veteran Blasts Allen's Public Comments”, Washington Post, October 18, 2006)
But Winfield strongly disagrees with Webb. “Senator Allen has an important message to tell Americans about our mission in Iraq. He understands the sacrifices that my son and so many others have made in the name of freedom. When he mentions Jason at speeches, people are often moved; it’s his way of honoring our troops and letting people know how personal this war can be,” she said. “There are a lot of people in this country who have sacrificed in this war and understand just how important it is to win it. We’re fortunate to have leaders like Senator Allen fighting for our troops.”
Winfield was on hand with Senator John Warner and many other veterans this morning at an event in which Senator Allen received the endorsement of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee and the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition. At the event, Senator Allen mentioned Winfield and told the crowd her story which evoked a sustained applause in gratitude for the sacrifice that her son made for this country.
“Rhonda and her son, Jason, are an inspiration to us all,” Senator Allen said. “Every morning when I wake up at home, I see Lance Corporal Redifer’s dog tags on my dresser and it reminds me of the importance of standing strong in this fight against radical terrorists. It is because of brave men like Jason Redifer that Americans live in freedom and I will surely share that message whenever I have the opportunity.”