Hang In There, Says Vietnam Vet

This letter appeared in the Maui (Hawaii) News on Easter Sunday, and caught my eye (via the Internet, alas):

Life on ground different from what’s reportedCongratulations for having the guts and impartiality to spot the article of U.S. soldier in Iraq, Joe Roche, baring his soul (Opinion, April 7). “Why don’t they see the good we’re doing here? The news you are hearing from stateside is awfully depressing and negative.”

This soldier exists each day in dust, heat, sweat, thirst, flies, danger, hunger, exhaustion, uncertainty and working seven days a week with sleep deprivation, yet he pleads, “Our mission is vital. Our efforts to train . . . Iraqis to police themselves are bearing fruit.”

Having been a combat soldier in Vietnam, I can identify with Roche’s frustrations about the shortcomings of our media. We military reporters wrote thousands of positive stories. Some, like me, lived with the troops during search and destroy missions where we became intimately involved with the communist terror attempting to inundate the countryside. Our positive stories of construction and care never made the cherished national news.

In retrospect, reporters from the major news facilities shacked up along Tu Do Street with the finest women, attended the morning MACV briefing, typed their report while incorporating the particular slant required by their publishers and adjourned to some of the finest restaurants in Cholon on the company tab.

Hang in there, Roche. Americans from my generation support you. We remember the time when it was possible to board an airliner without our personal belongings being searched for bombs and weapons. This is what you are fighting for.

Ray Pezzoli Jr.

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