November 20, 2003

EMAIL OF THE WEEK

From an anonymous reader:

Hi Tim

Hear about the 17 less americans!

hope they had famlies!

This person will be delighted to learn that, yes, the 17 soldiers killed in Mosul on Saturday did have families. Letís meet them, via various news reports:

His grandmother said he was kind, nice and honorable.

Then again, she said, that's how all grandmothers see their grandsons.

"All I can say is that I couldn't ask for a better one," said Bitha Heidelberg, from her home in Clarke County.

Her grandson, 21-year-old Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg, a Shubuta native, was among the 17 killed Saturday in Iraq when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.

Warrant Officer Erik C. Kesterson spent eight years in the Marines as a crew chief and gunner on helicopters. He was awarded the Marine Corps Medal of Heroism for pulling seven men out of a burning helicopter crash. He left the Marines, but after Sept. 11 he re-enlisted in the military, joining the Army's warrant officer program.

"He was very patriotic and believed in this country," his father, Clayton Kesterson of Independence, said. "He's a good man."

Pfc. Sheldon Hawk Eagle joined the Army while he was visiting his sister in North Dakota and dreamed of becoming an elite Army Ranger, his cousin says.

Hawk Eagle, 21, of Eagle Butte, S.D., a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was among 17 Americans killed when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq, on Saturday.

"He's a hero," said Harold Frazier, the tribal chairman. "He defended our country and protected our freedom."

Two dozen long-stem roses remain in bloom on a dining room table inside the Federal Way home where a 28-year-old widow tends to the 2-month-old twin sons that a husband, father and soldier gone to war will never see.

Katrina Sullivan knew immediately the roses were from her husband, 26-year-old Army Spc. John Sullivan, when they arrived last week commemorating both her Nov. 7 birthday and the birth of their sons.

The last thing helicopter crew chief Sgt. Ryan Baker did when he was home on leave two weeks ago was to hug his mother, assuring her that he would be safe despite his job as a helicopter mechanic in Iraq.

The family, said mother Vicky Baker, is devastated."Iím just so proud ... and Iím so angry that they would take my baby like that," the mother sobbed, her voice trailing off.

Funeral arrangements have been made for a fallen South Dakota soldier who died in a helicopter collision last weekend in Iraq. 33-year old Scott Saboe of Willow Lake joined the Army in 1989. He leaves behind his father, Arlo; his sister, Ann; his wife, Franceska and their six-year old son Dustin.

Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Martin Liberato Bolor, a Maui native, was among those killed in Saturday's collision of two Black Hawk helicopters in Mosul, Iraq, the Army said yesterday.

Bolor, 37, was an Army reservist and a supply specialist with the 137th Quartermaster Company, which was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. The 1984 Lahainaluna High School graduate lived with his wife, Kelly, and their 3-year-old son, Kyle, in Whittier, Calif.

Spc. Eugene A. Uhl III was honored to follow his father and grandfather into the military.

"He was proud to be there (in Iraq), proud to be defending the country," said his mother Joan Uhl.

William Dusenbery was a devoted flyer, his father said Sunday.

"He died doing something he loved," William Dusenbery, Sr., who lives in Fairview Heights, just outside St. Louis, Mo.

Nancy Koeppen planned to answer an e-mail from Warren Hansen, a Clintonville soldier stationed in Iraq last Saturday, but thought it could wait until Monday.

Koeppen watched Hansen grow up with her son Mark. "Warrenís mother Beth and his stepfather Jim (Karlson) are great people, always doing and thinking about others first. Warren was the same way."

The flags outside Gregory Portland High School are at half staff in memory of 26-year-old Sgt. John Russell.

He graduated from high school in 1995 and went on to serve his country in the 101st Airborne based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Dennis Russell, John's father, said, "The media is using them to advance somebody's political ... for whatever reason and attacking our president. And it's wrong."

He says we should not forget those in the armed services who make the ultimate sacrifice.

First Lieutenant Pierre Piche, 28, was one of 17 soldiers from the 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky., who died in the collision. "They said . . . there was an attack and that the helicopters may have collided," his mother, Lisa Johnson, said yesterday to WCAX-TV. "He was supposed to grow old with his wife."

Rick Hafer lived for two things: football and his two half-sisters.

Hafer joined the Army to get his life together after poor high school grades kept him from entering college to play football, family members said. Also, he wanted to fight to keep his country safe for his younger sisters, Holly and Heather Strickland.

"His sisters were his whole life," his former stepmother, Sherry Barclay, said Monday from her home in Nitro, a suburb about 15 miles from Charleston. "He said when he left that he wanted to keep our home ground safe for them to live in. He wanted to prove to everybody that he could be somebody."

When Michael Acklin Sr. spoke to his son, Army Sgt. Michael Acklin II, during a telephone call from Iraq about two weeks ago, he could hear the sadness in his only child's voice.

The younger man didn't cry, but Acklin said he could hear his pain over losing a member of his Army unit to gunfire.

"He expressed to me the situation was getting worse over there. I tried to encourage him, keep him strong. I couldn't tell him, `Son, I miss you.' I didn't want to upset him.

"I hope our country and our community of Louisville will take time to appreciate our brave soldiers who sacrificed their life for ours."

Pfc. Joey Whitener spent his childhood wanting a military career.

But the birth of his son on Sept. 13 changed Whitener's priorities.

"He was so happy to be home with his friends and family and his son," Whitener's wife, Beth, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, recalling her husband surprising her by taking leave to be home for Tristan's birth.

"His son was his pride and joy. The first time they put him in his arms, he cried."

Spc. Jeremy DiGiovanni, 21, died Saturday, in the helicopter collision that also killed Mississippi soldier Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg.

"It brings it home. This thing is real and it's not over by a long shot," said the Rev. Harold Gartman, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Summit, where DiGiovanni will be buried when his body returns from Iraq.

The stunned community has tried to extend sympathy to DiGiovanni's father, Joe, who owns a store in the community, Joe's One-Stop.

"He's super fine guy," Gartman said.

Inside the rural Menomonie, Wis., home of his dad, David Wolfe, somber friends and family gathered to grieve the loss of Jeremy Wolfe, 27, a helicopter pilot who died Saturday in Iraq.

"He should be remembered as a soldier for the United States, who fought for his country and for its beliefs," said David Wolfe.

Poor anonymous e-mail person. Heíll never know this sort of love and pride.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 20, 2003 01:27 PM
Comments

It is appropriate that you share with us this information on the families of the soldiers killed. Too often the humanity disappears. We are all people and like it or not that means that we have connections.

It is a rare individual who will not leave a tremendous space when they die. Sadly, people such as Saddam Hussein and the Mullahs and all those others throughout history who have systematically murdered and continue to do so, do not have this view of people and their worth.

Many years ago I realised that we cannot make them have it, no amount of wishing will make it so. We have to marginalise them and that means effort and this effort will mean casualties on our side.

I could not be more proud of those men and women who are prepared to risk the price. They are not perfect but they are angels.

Posted by: Allan Morton at November 20, 2003 at 01:52 PM

I have a feeling that guy who wrote the email wouldn't leave much of a space if he died.

Especially if he fell into some kind of indusrial compacting machine.

Posted by: Amos at November 20, 2003 at 01:58 PM

Too bad you can't also share any personal info about your correspondent. I'm sure there are a number of people who would like to have a discussion with him.

Posted by: Ken Summers at November 20, 2003 at 02:06 PM

Nice sentiments Allan.

Posted by: Gary at November 20, 2003 at 02:06 PM

Words fail me. Well, nearly, what a disgusting grub. And so brave with the anonymity.

Posted by: Pedro at November 20, 2003 at 02:08 PM

As a college student in the mid-70's here in the States, I was part of that "skulls full of mush" group who knew absoloutely nothing about soldiers,the war, and the world, yet blathered on about the very things our leftist friends are today. Same playbook, different times.

I am humbled by our Armed Forces courage, and remember folks, these brave souls chose to join, protect and fight.

I feel a George Orwell quote coming on, something like this--those folks fought and died so people like me and others can write comments on Australian blog.

Tim, the guy who left you that comment is a coward of the largest proportions. I'm sure others who frequent this blog will provide the appropriate descriptive adjectives.

Posted by: joe at November 20, 2003 at 02:10 PM

Amos is falling down on the job, so I will make the obligatory reference to German housewives shopping for white goods in 1941:

Deutscheren Hausfrauen schopin fur Weisenguten im 1941.

My German is weak, so that may not be quite right.

Posted by: Ken Summers at November 20, 2003 at 02:11 PM

Fool! Germany ist strong!

Posted by: Amosuppenfuhergruppen at November 20, 2003 at 03:02 PM

Are you sure you cant track the whereabouts of your anonymous correspondent ?? I'm sure there are a few around here who would take pride in giving him some 'loving attention'....

Posted by: Jim Flair at November 20, 2003 at 03:30 PM

It can be easy sometimes to lose sight of the humanity of the fallen, especially when their life stories are condensed in the mass media to a single digit on the running death meter. Thanks for printing their stories.

Posted by: John Lanius at November 20, 2003 at 03:45 PM

"Poor anonymous e-mail person"

Probably just another compassionate, anti-war, peace loving lefty.

Posted by: J. at November 20, 2003 at 08:04 PM

Well, I'm not as articulate as any of the above contributors, but fuck there are some real cunts in the world aren't they?

Posted by: gaz at November 20, 2003 at 08:39 PM

Thank-you for information on the families of these soldiers killed in Iraq. It was heartbreakingly sad to read. One's heart breaks for the young men killed & for the families left bereft.
The author of the evil wish email is a sad, sick unhappy person to wish grief of that magnitude upon innocent people.
J

Posted by: Judy Power at November 20, 2003 at 09:39 PM

Sorry to hear about the 300,000 political opponents Saddam murdered and threw into mass graves, the children who died in his death camps for the families of political prisoners, the hundreds of thousands who died in his meaningless and failed wars, the 10,000 Kurds he gassed to death, and the hundreds of thousands more to death who starved under UN sanctions.

They had families, too.

Posted by: Aaron at November 20, 2003 at 10:41 PM

thanks tim.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at November 20, 2003 at 11:06 PM

"Poor anonymous email person" wouldn't know what its like to draw another breath if I was in range.

Bastard.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at November 20, 2003 at 11:23 PM

Poor anonymous e-mail person. Heíll never know this sort of love and pride.

Thats aparent considring the fakt that nither his parentz or teechers botherd to teech him how to spel.

I truly feel sorry for this -- er -- human being(?).

Posted by: Tongue Boy at November 21, 2003 at 12:06 AM

He deserves an anyonymous grave, the bastard.

Posted by: Tim in PA at November 21, 2003 at 12:13 AM

What is scary for me is my reaction to this e-mail: resignation. Yes, one another totally soulless ghoul with outward form of a human. We have seen so many since 9/11 parading their depravity.

My gratitude to the brave soldiers who died for my freedom is boundless. May they rest in peace.

Posted by: Katherine at November 21, 2003 at 03:07 AM

Some dissent needs crushing. Along with the dissenter. A run-in with a patented Corrie-matic PancakeDozer would be about right for this waste of skin.

Anonymity is essential for spouting such filth. I'm a pretty non-violent sort of a guy, but if anyone said this within earshot I'd headbutt them so hard it would look like somebody hitting a watermelon with a baseball bat.

Posted by: David Gillies at November 21, 2003 at 05:02 AM

Damn Tim. I mean damn. I'm a lawyer and your post brought tears to my eyes. Now that isn't manly! I'll be cryin' like a liberal if you keep that up!

For the anonymous poster: If it were my blog, I'd track you down and publish your e-mail. I think there are some Marines that might want to *chat* with you pal.

Posted by: Esq at November 21, 2003 at 05:07 AM

Thank you, Tim.

Posted by: beets at November 21, 2003 at 06:15 AM

Thanks, Tim, for compiling those stories. I didn't know any of those soldiers, but my brother-in-law is stationed at Ft. Campbell (having recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East), and the people there are certainly grieving, even as they understand that the risk of injury or death is part of what they do. None of them, though, deserve to have their efforts belittled by smug e-mailers who do not have the courage to stand behind their own words. We've obviously been dealing with this kind of behavior on large and small scales for months now, but it never fails to irritate me. I'm intensely proud of my brother-in-law, and I've told him so, partly in the hope that my words will offset this other garbage that he must hear from time to time.

Posted by: Dave at November 21, 2003 at 06:43 AM

Devastating answer, Tim. And Gaz, you're right about the f***ing c**ts.

Posted by: Jim Whyte at November 21, 2003 at 07:07 AM

Very touching read. Thanks.

To many in the anti-US crowd we are *not* viewed as people, we're viewed as ? . Can't think of a good word for it. However, it's the same way in which anti-Semites view the Jews (less than human).

Posted by: Chris Josepshon at November 21, 2003 at 09:50 AM

Actually Chris, I've often seen a comparison between classical anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

I think that you can also draw a similarity between the way Viet Nam veterans were treated thirty years ago and the way many in the left view ordinary Americans today.

In any event, I think you're a fine country and a people. I'm very grateful to all your servicemen and women along with everyone else in the coalition.

This brave e-mailer, while disgusting and pathetic, is not really worth worrying about.

Posted by: gaz at November 21, 2003 at 10:31 AM

Very well researched, cutting and pasting all over the place. Another report from the frontline of the blogmire. So we approve of these senseless deaths, do we? All in a good and worthy cause, no? Bring democracy to Iraq, lose it at home. My how we sound like apologists for carnage.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at November 21, 2003 at 12:36 PM

My, how we sound like a whining, obnoxious vicious old bag.

Posted by: gaz at November 21, 2003 at 12:53 PM

Wow, Miranda, way to demonstrate that old "man is an abyss" saw.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 21, 2003 at 03:32 PM

And right on cue, there's good ole miranda divide again ( for those who don't know him/here, he/she goes around on quite a lot of blogs spouting the same dribble, if i had the time ( i need to get out of here to go to my yob, a privilege that miranda divide won't be familiar with ) i would point you guy's towards some of the comments he/she left ) just another little human being again, who cant help but view everything that America does and everything that America sacrifices as a personal insult.

Posted by: chinditz at November 21, 2003 at 05:44 PM

Believe us, we are quite familiar with Miranda's oevre.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 21, 2003 at 09:56 PM

Your post made me weep. Thanks.

Posted by: desertgal at November 22, 2003 at 12:14 AM

Who is "we"?

Posted by: Miranda Divide at November 23, 2003 at 08:21 AM