Chesterton Tribune

West Point grad weighs in on duty and the war in Iraq

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Voice of the People

I am a former resident of Chesterton, I graduated from CHS in 1997 and my parents still live in Dune Acres. They came to visit my family and I recently and, as usual, brought the latest issues of the Chesterton Tribune so I can see all the happenings from my childhood home. I was struck in anger and disbelief at an advertisement promoting an upcoming speaking event for a lieutenant who refuses to follow through with his commitment to his country.

A little background about myself to lend some credibility to this letter: I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2001 and was commissioned a 2 LT. I served for 5 years with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry out of Ft. Lewis, WA. During this time, I was deployed to Iraq once where I served a one year tour in Mosul, Iraq. I was wounded in an ambush, fired upon hundreds of times, and I am darn proud of the soldiers I served with. Currently, I am a Captain on Inactive Ready Reserve.

Every citizen has the right to their own opinion about this war (my personal favorite is the “I support the troops, but not the war” which seems to me like saying “I hate baseball, but love the Cubs”). Our service men and women are not entitled to this sort of an opinion. Can you imagine the chaos if soldiers and officers were allowed to choose which missions they would accept and those they wouldn’t? I am afraid that the turnout on Omaha Beach wouldn’t have been very good. Both LT Watada and I took an oath when we were commissioned to protect this country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. I have looked evil in the face in Iraq, I have smelled the stench of hatred, and I can assure you that the terrorists we are fighting there are our enemies. The difference is that I upheld this commitment even though it meant missing my daughter’s birth and a whole year’s worth of hugs and kisses from my son. Apparently, LT Watada thinks his time more valuable.

I find it absolutely laughable that a person would join the armed forces and then decide that war just wasn’t their thing. I have no idea when this LT was commissioned, but I find it very difficult to believe that it didn’t occur to him some time during the commissioning process (at least 1 year) that he would be deployed somewhere in this Global War on Terror.

I shudder to think sometimes how my generation will be viewed by history. Will we be defined by my 16 friends and brothers that gave their lives for this country and this cause? Or will it be defined by the LT Watadas of this country that shirk their responsibilities and commitments when the going gets rough? I wonder what Patton or McArthur would say? My guess is that it would not be publishable in this newspaper. I thank God every day that I was raised by parents that taught me the meaning of the words Duty, Honor, Country, and Commitment. I fear that LT Watada did not receive such an education and if he did, promptly forgot it.

I beg you not to view this as a matter of whether or not this war is right or wrong, but rather as a matter of commitment and duty. There are better ways of protesting this war than supporting those that refuse to fight it. I think that a very strong message was sent the last election cycle and this is the best way to voice your opinion. This LT accepted the responsibilities that go along with being an officer (probably along with a whole ton of money to go to college) and now refuses to uphold those responsibilities. Please do not support this type of behavior, or I assure you, you will doom my generation and the future of this country.

Jeff Smith

Saline, MI


Posted 2/1/2007