Returning home from war
He just returned from the battlefield of Iraq less than two weeks ago and sports a tan from months in the desert. He's been in the Army, the Reserves, and the Army National Guard. He's worked with the Navy and the United States Marine Corps.
He reenlisted in 2001 after 9/11 occurred because he knew Muslim terrorists had attacked this country. He had studied those people ... he had read all about them ... and he knew they were behind the attacks.
He relishes his mountain home ... basks in the love of family and friends ... and yet he feels the call to protect this country he loves from a vicious enemy.
He is willing to sacrifice time with his family, time on the mountain, to go halfway around the world because he would rather fight terrorism in the desert sand than fight it on the streets of Staunton. And if you don't think that can happen, he says, you're naive and have no sense of the real world.
He makes no apologies for his political affiliation ... Republican.
He angers at the lack of factual coverage in the mainstream media which leaves Americans with a negative impression of how the war is going in Iraq. He pounds his fist into his hand to make a point. In his military uniform he is all business.
But he can get a tear in his eye at the sight of an American flag waving in the breeze ... at the sight of everyday Americans standing on a street corner showing support for him and his fellow warriors ... at friends and family welcoming him home from war on a cold, rainy night.
He is ... an American soldier.
He lives in the mountains of western Virginia ... but he spent a year in Baghdad protecting and talking with the highest ranking Iraqi government officials ... the President, Vice Presidents, Prime Minister.
He has thoughts to share. Just ask him. He will tell you. But he is also mindful of the uniform he still wears.
This is a war we can win
We talked the morning after President George W. Bush's address to the nation asking for an additional 20,000 troops to go into Iraq. I wanted his perspective of the situation and whether the President's plan would work.
His first response: The troops need to have their hands untied and allowed to fight this war. No political correctness, no kid-glove treatment, no we-might-offend-someone attitude. This is war ... and war means breaking things and inflicting hurt.
In his opinion it's almost too late for that. However, that doesn't mean we won't succeed or can't succeed. This is a war we can win.
But those 20,000 troops need to know what their mission will be. There's nothing wrong with beefing up the troops if they are used effectively ... they need to eliminate the insurgent terrorists whose only job is to kill GIs. It needs to be done. Exterminate them. They are trying to kill American troops. Let our military do what they need to do.
He bristles when anti-war protesters and Democrats are mentioned. He feels betrayed by both.
He also feels the American people abandoned the military with their actions last November when they turned leadership of this country over to Democrats. It was like a vote of no-confidence ... as if they had no recourse other than throwing up their hands and giving in.
The public abandoned the military.
He repeated that a number of times. The unwashed masses of the U.S. elected legislators who were interested in nothing more than just plain getting us out of Iraq ... bringing the military back ... and not worrying about finishing the mission.
It's all political, he says. The Democrats have no plan other than to just withdraw -- cut and run -- so they can make a statement to the President.
No matter how much they proclaim to "support the troops" ... the troops don't feel that support as long as Congress doesn't back the mission and what they have done and are doing.
Iraq is a stronghold in the Middle East. We went in and toppled a dictatorship. The people are grateful, and we need to stay there to finish the job.