Members of the military, others, respond to Rep. Rangel and Sen. Kerry’s insults about their education

First, a recap of Rangel’s and Kerry’s comments about our troops:

Rep. Rangel – 11/26/06: “I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.”

Rep. Rangel – 1/7/03: “”Those who love this country have a patriotic obligation to defend this country” Rangel said. “For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance.”

Senator Kerry – 10/30/06: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

And now, a word or two in response from our members of our fine military, family members, and others:

Arnold Dupuy put his education on hold to serve his country:

“I was working on my second M.A. when an opportunity arose to train Afghan soldiers. I jumped at the chance, as I wanted to make a contribution to the war effort and help the Afghan people. I dropped out of classes, left my wife and two young children, and with a team of exceptionally intelligent and dedicated men, trained several hundred Afghan artillery men. I have since resumed my studies and will finish next year. Other than being a parent, that experience has been one of the most satisfying of my life.

Furthermore, my brother completed three tours in Southeast Asia; my father fought the Japanese in Burma; and my grandfather served in Europe in both world wars. They were all highly intelligent, educated men who made the military a career not because they were losers, but because they loved this country.

Why is it so difficult for Kerry, Rangel and their ilk to understand that bright men and women will put on the uniform not out of desperation but out of love and devotion to their county? ”

Brian O’Rourke didn’t make the cut:

“In 1992, my senior year of college, I was rejected for military service on medical grounds: I had asthma after age 12. Because people like Rangel were screaming at the time for a “peace dividend,” the military was drawing down its forces at a rate like that at the end of World War II. Had I not failed the physical on those grounds, I’d most likely be in the Coast Guard (though I was flirting with the blue water Navy as well) fighting drug dealers in the Caribbean, or guarding ports in the Gulf, or searching tankers off Boston harbor. Sadly, I’m not, so I live military life vicariously, through my best man, who though an Air Force staff officer was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq; through a former student’s service in the Navy–even now traveling home from the Middle East; through another groomsman in the Army reserve who has been to many ugly mudholes around the world; and through others who have come and gone from my life over the years.

The two men in my wedding graduated from college with me, from Tufts, which has a long, distinguished history of ROTC and a more recent, shameful one of disparaging the hell out of the men and women who join it. I know from firsthand witness that they’ve been mocked, jeered at and insulted in Rangelian terms since they began their undergraduate years. All this at a school that is among the most highly selective schools in the country–a school that has produced quite a few of the self-styled cognoscenti in Kerry and Rangel’s service. That former student is an Annapolis grad. I taught him in high school, and he could have gone to any school in the country–he chose service–and now he’s my daughter’s godfather.

In the final analysis, I’m always a little embarrassed that I failed the physical, because from a young age I wanted to serve, and wheezy lungs seems like such a stupid reason to have to be a “wannabe.” But my association with these friends is a great honor to me. These men are smart, capable and honorable, and Rangel isn’t fit to lace their combat boots. ”

Bob Crotty salutes his son’s bravery:

“In rebuttal to the Rangel/Kerry attitude towards today’s military, I offer a brief story about my son’s service. He is a second lieutenant in the Army headed to Korea next year.

He graduated from Stanford with a 3.2 average and a degree in computer science in June 2006. He could be enjoying his first job in Silicon Valley or elsewhere, but instead decided, on his own, to try Army ROTC as a freshman at Stanford. Stanford, of course, does not permit ROTC on its campus, so Bobby and numerous other Stanford students drove the hour round trip to Santa Clara University several times a week to pursue ROTC.

The Army offered Bobby a four-year scholarship as a freshman, but I counseled him to turn it down because he did not need the financial assistance. As a dad who served in the military, I would wholeheartedly support his decision to serve. But, because we are in the midst of a war, I wanted him to be certain that he wanted to serve. At the beginning of his sophomore year and without telling us until afterwards, he accepted an Army scholarship and committed to serving at least four years of active duty. He is currently on active duty and hopes to attend Ranger school before shipping out to his first duty station in Korea.

I had a chance to meet a number of the young men and women in his ROTC unit, as well as the Santa Clara University ROTC cadre–what an impressive group! I can confidently report that the country’s military is, and will continue to be, in good hands, much better hands than the likes of Kerry or Rangel. Those young ROTC students are the best of American youth, willing to serve their country in a time of peril. We sing that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. I ask you, who today is braver than those serving in the military?”

Capt. Michael Tyson writes in from the front:

“I have been deployed to Iraq for almost two months and only recently got to a point where I can take some time every day to read Best of the Web. I’ve been trying to catch up, and latched on to the series of emails you’ve received from folks like me in response to the Hon. Kerry and Rangel.

Let me tell you about my team. We are small, numbering only nine, but judging by the responses you’ve gotten, we are typical. I have been serving this great nation for a little over 20 years, most of that time enlisted. I joined a year out of high school. A short nine years later I finished my bachelor’s; I would have finished it sooner, but deployments to Saudi and shift work made it difficult. I finished with a degree in Russian and a 3.67 GPA. I am now an officer with a master’s in national security studies.

My team chief is a man with about 15 years’ Air Force experience and a bachelor’s degree, and he just happens to speak five languages, all but one of which he learned in the Air Force.

The next three of my team have varying years of experience (from 6 to 12). All speak Arabic fluently (none had Arabic-speaking parents). All but one have a bachelor’s degree. One speaks five other languages fluently.

My lead technician is a Desert Storm veteran and is now on his second tour to the Middle East. Did I mention he’s a civilian and he volunteered for this?

My other technician just got accepted for a new assignment to serve on Air Force One. He has a bachelor’s degree and is actively seeking a master’s program for when he gets to Washington.

My senior operator has a bachelor’s degree in Korean and is on her second Iraq deployment, having spent only four months at home between the two trips. Yes, she volunteered for both.

Lastly, I have an operator who is celebrating his first wedding anniversary in a few days. He has spent a total of three months with his new bride this entire first year of his marriage. And yes, he’s volunteered for every deployment this last year. Additionally, he got back from a yearlong remote tour in Korea a little more than a year ago.

Oh, did I mention all of my team except me are enlisted? This is typical of what I’ve seen in the last 20-plus years.

Cheers from the sandbox, sir.”

And, of course, let’s not forget about this initial response from members of our military ;)

Hat tip: Anchoress

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