- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Rush Limbaugh played a sound bite on his radio program last week from the question-and-answer session Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld had with our troops over in Baghdad during his visit with them.

A young soldier asked this question, and I have to paraphrase: Secretary Rumsfeld, my family and friends back home tell me that all they hear on the news is the negative stuff. Whenever we help a little kid or build a hospital, the news does not cover it. How can we win this war with the media?

To hear this brave young soldier’s voice asking this question both saddened me and infuriated me. How can the general media turn their backs on our wonderful troops who put their lives in danger so that we over here can enjoy our many daily freedoms?

Please give advice on what the average American citizen can do to win this war with the media and thus generate more support for our troops, God bless them. And God bless America.

Sincerely,

Collette,

Lexington, Va.

Dear Collette:

As Benjamin Franklin often said, “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” Unfortunately, the American media cameras and keyboards, acting like Al Jazeera, mainly focus on sensational negative events.

Recently, six Navy SEALs and two of their wives filed a lawsuit against the Associated Press and one of its reporters for revealing their identities in personal pictures published worldwide in early December. The case was filed in the Superior Court of San Diego.

The complaint says that AP reporter Seth Hettena stumbled upon a photograph in a personal photo storage Web site maintained by one of the wives of the Navy SEALs that contains photographs both personal and Navy-related. Mr. Hettena removed photographs from that site and published them on Dec. 4 in a story stating that the pictures “could be” the earliest evidence of prisoner abuse in Iraq. The SEALs argue that the pictures actually depict special warfare operators’ standard procedures during covert operations. The Iraqis shown being captured in the photographs were leaders of anti-coalition attacks and Saddam Hussein loyalists.

The AP chose to publish the photographs worldwide, clearly showing their faces and identifying information and showing them in operations in Iraq where they can be identified by the enemy.

In the article to which the photographs were attached, the AP quotes the Navy as saying that revealing the faces or names of these special warfare operators could put them or their families at risk. In spite of that knowledge, AP made no efforts to obscure their faces or conceal their identities.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

When my husband, retired Marine Col. Robert D. Taplett, and I read of the Injured Marine Fund in your article, we immediately sent money to them. Col. Taplett, who had commanded the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in 1950 from Pusan through the Chosin Reservoir and the long hike back, died Dec. 17 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure.

His obit asked all donations be sent to the Semper Fi Fund. He can’t be buried until Jan. 31. The Mass is at Fort Myer Chapel, with full honors and burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

If it were not for your article, we would not have selected this fund. I hope it is doing its job.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Robert Taplett

Virginia

Dear Mrs. Taplett:

Contribution to the Semper Fi Fund will certainly be a fitting memorial tribute to your husband’s Marine Corps service. Please read on.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I’d like to take the opportunity at the beginning of the new year to thank you and all of your readers for the spectacular support of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The nationwide response has been more than we could have ever imagined when we started the fund only seven months ago.

I am thrilled to report that 100 percent of the tax-deductible donations go directly to helping the families of injured Marines and sailors. Throughout the nation, many of our wounded Marines and sailors were unable to leave the hospital for the holidays. Instead of the traditional celebration around the Christmas tree, many families spent their Christmas at the hospital bedside of their wounded Marine or sailor.

Due to the overwhelming support that the fund has received, we were able to provide an additional $1,000 to every combat injured Marine and sailor that was hospitalized over the Christmas holiday.

Here in the nation’s capital, the Christmas grants were hand-delivered to the National Naval Medical Center Bethesda on Christmas Eve and given to each Marine and sailor during a catered buffet dinner served in honor of these fine young men and women.

All of this was made possible by people like you and your readers who reached out to support those that defend our freedom. Thank you again, Sgt. Shaft, for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Rene Bardorf

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C., 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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