Haunted? Yes, I think haunted is the right word to describe the American ‘soldier’. Revered as a hero or reviled as a devil incarnate, in the end a ‘soldier’ is simply a person with all the complexity that word implies. In some philosophical circles ‘hero’ replaces ‘soldier’ and heroes must, by definition, die. One may not, after all, return to a world of peace with a skill set fit for wars alone. Lisa Guliani, whose premise is based on the ‘all volunteer’ military, recently wrote …”How can you say you support the troops when the troops are engaged in the outright murder of people who have never done a damn thing to the American people OR the U.S. government? It makes ZERO sense.”…[1] She is correct, of course, at least as far as she takes it.

At the other extreme, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report that claims twenty-two soldiers, active and veterans, commit suicide every day.[2] The suicide note of Daniel Somers, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, gives a special meaning to the word ‘pain’. In his last effort to share his thoughts, he wrote…“To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has

turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.”… “I am free.”[3] Daniel’s story is recent but it is echoed at the end of WWII, when American POW’s disappeared into

Working in the Gulag.

Working in the Gulag.

the soviet gulags, and throughout the Cold War (1947-1991). It is a disturbing movement. The U.S. government abandonment of the ‘soldier’ while claiming it leaves no one behind is inconsistent with its preferred icon of the hero with the white hat riding in to save-the-day.

The white hat illusion is one the U.S. government will defend at any cost. Benghazi is a recent example of the lengths to which the players will go to preserve the image. Even with the truth that these Americans did not need to be abandoned to die horribly on full display, the deception is kept alive.

‘And’, during the first Gulf War, comes the story of Scott Speicher whose betrayal and abandonment is detailed in Amy Waters Yarsinske’s book An American in the Basement: The Betrayal of Captain Scott Speicher and the Cover-up of His Death. You may recall the clues that Speicher was still alive when the U.S. invaded Iraq. It was covered by several news sources. Speicher apparently ejected from his F/A-18 Hornet on the first night of the Persian Gulf War and was taken in by a Bedouin group.[4] New evidence suggests he was repeatedly promised a deal for his repatriation by an American intelligence asset.  Speicher fell into Saddam Hussein’s hands and spent the next eight years in a Baghdad prison. He was killed after the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.

‘And’, from Vietnam, comes the story of Bobby Garwood, captured while on a mission for the military intelligence organization. He was declared a deserter and a Special Forces mission was deployed to assassinate him. According to Joseph D. Douglass Jr., “When informed in 1978 that Garwood was still a prisoner, the State Department discarded the message. Only when Garwood managed to get a second message out in 1979 was he released. He managed to slip a note to a Finnish executive

POW L. Hughes (center), a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is paraded barefoot and with a bandaged face through the street by two Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War, Vietnam.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

POW L. Hughes (center), a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is paraded barefoot and with a bandaged face through the street by two Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War, Vietnam. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

who was in Hanoi. The Finn made the note public and Garwood was released to avoid the embarrassment. Upon his return, the Marine Corps put him on trial for behavior unbecoming a prisoner of war and seized all his back pay. Then they rigged the trial and prevented those who could attest to his prisoner status, such as the former North Vietnamese official Col. Tran Van Loc, from telling the truth at the trial.”[5]

‘And’, from Korea, Colonel Phillip Corso ( US Army Ret.Dec.), testified before the Dornan subcommittee on military personnel of the House National Security Committee, held a hearing on the POW/MIA issue in which Corso stated he had personally told Eisenhower of the U.S. POWs being used for experimentation.[6]

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” said Vladimir Lenin, Russian Communist politician & revolutionary (1870 – 1924); but it doesn’t. A lie is just a lie. Until the American people become clear about the value of a ‘soldier’ and demand the government respond truthfully about foreign affairs nothing will change. To paraphrase former Sen. Herb Kohl, a ‘soldier’ must trust the government to train and equip them, and do everything it reasonably can to protect them and care for them.  If the government fails the integrity test of doing what it is supposed to do even when no one is looking,

Government likes the idea of wearing a White Hat.

Government likes the idea of wearing a White Hat.

then why would a ‘soldier’ even leave home let alone follow orders? Why would a ‘soldier’ be a ‘soldier’? When the American public finally became incensed, Congress passed the 2002 Bring Them Home Alive Act,[7] which provides refugee status to foreign nationals of specified countries who assist in returning to U.S. control a live American POW or MIA from the Vietnam or Korean Wars. Navy Capt. Red McDaniel, who survived 6 years as a POW in North Vietnam, pretty well says it all: “I was prepared to fight, to be wounded, to be captured, and even prepared to die, but I was not prepared to be abandoned.”[8]

What then shall we teach our children? We should teach them the truth. There are great military heroes and sometimes a country needs to fight but now is not that time. I have been an advocate of the ‘soldier’ all my life. On the other hand, for that same period I have been critical of the military command structure; in particular those in the command structure that could not find a battlefield if their lives depended on it. More recently, I have become a strong critic of the use of the military as a political extension to achieve the whim of the day. Post 9/11/2001, the nation responded and the military ranks swelled with those who believed the threat to the U.S. was real. The ‘soldier’ in this military is being severely abused and our best and young people are being sacrificed for political ambition. Eventually the U.S. military may even be turned against its citizens. The dangers of a standing military are well documented throughout history and cannot be overstated; no nation can afford one for very long, it is a power tool for politicians, the best and brightest are sacrificed, and eventually it is turned against the people.

Fifty years ago, I believed we should serve to keep our great country free. Today, I still believe we should serve to keep our great country free. But the shores of our great country are not directly threatened so the military should stand down. The Cold War propaganda was excellent. We, the people, bought the standing military hook, line and sinker. It is time to shake off the hook, realize we’ve been hoodwinked, and demand accountability.

[1]; Lisa Guliani; , 22 Jun 2013; ‘Supporting the troops’ is supporting your own destruction;

[2] Forbes; Melanie Haiken; 2/05/2013; Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps – Now 22 A Day;

[4] CNN Washington Bureau; Barbara Starr; January 10, 2003; Report suggests missing pilot alive in Iraq;

[5] The Long Goodbye, We Shall Never Forget; Joseph D. Douglass Jr.;

[6] Library of congress; United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs;


[8] This article is a condensed version of a talk given to Indiana Chapter 1 of Rolling Thunder on November 9, 2002. The material is taken from Betrayed: The Story of Missing American POWs by Joseph D. Douglass Jr., published in 2002 and available through book stores (ISBN 1-4033-0131-X)


2 thoughts on “Soldier

  1. A civilian friend of mine asked me once, “Do you feel that you were cheated out of getting to go to war?”

    My reply, “Hell no! I do however felt the deep desire to re-enlist so that I could be there for them. We didn’t join the Army (or pick a branch) to kill people. We joined for varying reasons; Earn money for college, travel, learn what true discipline is all about, protect and serve our country – it’s constitution, and its population from all enemies – foreign and domestic. It has nothing to do with killing anyone…”

    He had this look on his face, “huh?”

    Civilians will never get it, and until we get back to teaching REAL history in ALL schools – public & private – the naïve will continue to vote for the charismatic cool guy on the ballet. Not the guy that means business…

    Mike Darbro
    US Army MP 86-89

    • Thank you for your service, Mike! People in the U.S. live free because of people like you and all those who have gone before, like my father, and will go after you, like my grandsons who can hardly wait to serve. It is ALL about the Constitution and keeping the country free. My complaint is about inept command leadership that does not use the military as it should, and presidents who do not know how to salute and expect Marines to hold umbrellas. My oath is no less an oath because I retired so I keep fighting my own way. History needs to be taught and learned but it is usually so far after the fact that the legacy and lessons we learn cannot be built upon. Thank you taking the time to comment.

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