Sunday, July 03, 2011

Editorial: Why are they still there?

christopher fishbeck

In the photo above is Christopher Fishbeck (from his MySpace page). He is one of 15 US soldiers who died in the Iraq War in the just finished month of June. George Prentice (Boise Weekly) observed, " Fifteen American soldiers were killed in June, the highest number of combat fatalities since June 2008, when 23 soldiers and Marines were killed."

Had President Barack Obama kept the promises that Americans thought candidate Barack Obama was making regarding the Iraq War, none of the 15 would have died. There was the great liar, storming the country, tent revials in which the Cult of St. Barack gasped for air, cried, fainted, soiled their undergarments and screamed and cheered as Barack declared, "We want to end the Iraq War! And we want to end it now!"

That was in 2008. His promise, as the average voter understood it, was that he'd end the Iraq War, it would be the first thing he'd start after being sworn in, on his first day, he would order one brigade out and then another the next month and, within 16 months, all US forces would be out of Iraq. So, as the average voter understood it, if Barack were elected president in November 2008, upon being sworn in as president in January 2009, he would begin a process of withdrawal which would be completed in June of 2010.

Last month was June. Of 2011.

He was deceitful and he refused to get honest throughout his campaign.

15 more deaths are at his doorstep.

Had he done what he said, they wouldn't have been in Iraq last month.

Christopher Fishbeck's mother, Toni Kay told Morning Edition's Tamara Keith (NPR), "He told me that he felt that there was a 90-percent chance that he wouldn't make it out alive. Whether that was based on a premonition that he had or whether it was based on his knowledge of what lied ahead, I don't know but he just felt a very, very strong sense that he wasn't going to make it out."

Marcus Cintron died last month as well and he also had a sense of foreboding. Natalie Sherman (Boston Herald) reported, "Wilfrido Cintron said his son called him three days before they learned he was hurt, concerned about his safety." Wilfrido Cintron explained, "He told me, 'Papa, we are in a dangerous place'."

And they were in a dangerous place and it is a dangerous place. Barack's claim of 'safety' and 'progress' is a ridiculous as George W. Bush's claims were. And Barack's "combat missions have ended" speech on August 31, 2010 was as much as a lie as Bush's 2003 "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" photo op. Since Barack made those false remarks, 51 US service members have died in the Iraq War.

Matthew J. England died in June. Ozarks First reported his aunt Susan Vuyovich remembered her nephew, "Matt was just all over the woods and playing in the water. Matthew was just full of life and full of spunk." Mike Landis (KY3 News -- link has text and video) quoted Dorris Sayles who knew Matthew from his job at a grocery store, "He always had a beautiful smile, he was friendly to everybody." The Baxter Bulletin notes that Pamela Hengen described her son Matthew as someone who was "really sweet" and had a "great sense of humor."

Michael Olivieri died last month, one week before what would have been a major milestone. Susan Demar Lafferty (Chicago Sun-Times) reports, "Sharon Olivieri put her head down on the casket while clutching her husband’s flag. The couple were one week shy of their first wedding anniversary when the 26-year-old Olivieri was killed."

June also saw the combat death of Robert Hartwick. The Chillicothe Gazette quotes Rev. John Williams, of the Bisonville United Methodist Church, "He was about 14 when he entered the church. What a great kid. He loved his dirt bike but didn't like the spotlight. I don't think he wanted to stand out. I think he'd probably be a little embarrassed by all this commotion going on for him. I don't think he would have liked the attention. [. . .] I think if there had been a job for him in the civilian world, he would have taken that. But there weren't any around here and he joined the Army. He was very proud to be a part of the U.S. Army."

Michael B. Cook Jr. died in June. WMUR (link has text and video) noted that the following "Monday would have been his 27th birthday" and that "Cook is now the fifth member of the school and third member of his class of 2003 to die in those wars [Iraq and Afghanistan Wars]. Principal Maura Palmer said the plan is to remember Cook's sacrifice in November." Doug Ireland (Eagle Tribune) spoke to Michael Cook's high school computer teacher, Curtis Killion, who remembered, "He would always volunteer. He was the kind of kid that all the younger ones were comfortable with." The Eagle Tribune quoted the superintendent of Salem's school system, Michael Delahanty who was principal of Salem High School when Michael Cook attended, "There are some kids who stand out and Michael was one of those kids."

Matthew G. Nielson was one of the 15 who died. The Des Moines Register reported 27-year-old Capt Matthew G. Nielson who is remembered warmly by friends at Fareway store where he worked from 2001 through 2007. Greg Rooney remembers him as a big fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and says, "He really wasn't that interested in any other sports team."

Sgt Matthew Gallagher's family not only had to deal with the news of their loss, they had to deal with the US military changing the story of their loved one's death. The Boston Channel (link has text and video) reports Cheryl Ruggiero, his mother, is asking that US Senator John Kerry help the family find out what happened because the military's changed their story, "We're getting bits and pieces from different people and I don't know what to believe. And when it's your child, you want to know." John Basile (Fall River Herald News) cites Capt Matthew Merrill stating that the statements about Matthew Gallagher doing a home sweep were mistaken and that he died "inside the wire". Christian Schiavone (Patriot Ledger) speaks with Matthew Gallager's step-father Jim Ruggiero who notes Matthew Gallagher loved baseball, "skiing, snowboarding and tae kwon do" and that Matthew's mother Cheryl had served in the Army for three years and Matthew sought her advice before and after enlisting. WCVB offered a video report which includes Katie Gallger speaking of her late husband, "He's the most generous nice person that I've ever met in my life. He was everything to me. He was my best friend."

Sgt Glenn Sewell also is one of the 15 fallen. Sig Christenson (San Antonio Express-News) quoted his father Mike Sewell stating, "He was a great man; he was a warrior. He was a man among men, fearless." The paper also noted, "Sewell was of German descent, and members of Germania Farmer Verein, a local nonprofit association, have volounteered to provide the memorial service. A polka band also will be a part of the ceremony." Isis Romero (KSAT) offers a video report of a Spring Branch tribute to Sewell. Friends describe him to Sig Christenson, "He was charismatic, intelligent and good with kids, a musician and artist who loved to read and crack jokes, the kind of guy who made folks feel more comfortable."

Staff Sgt Nicholas Price Bellard is one of the fifteen fallen. Sean Maginnis (KLFY -- link has text and video) notes this was Bellard's second deployment to Iraq and that he "leaves behind his wife, Vernoica, and two year old daughter, Eva." Jill Ament (KUT News) speaks to the 26-year-olds aunt Susan Ohlenforst who states, "He joined the military to put his wife through school. She graduated last month with a teaching degree."

Staff Sgt Russell Jeremiah Proctor also died in June. The Contra Costa Times reports that 25-year-old Russell Proctor was from Oroville and that this was his third deployment to Iraq. Ed Bielefeldt commented at The Oroville Mercury Register, "It was an honor to have served with him. Rest in peace brother." California Governor Jerry Brown's office issued the following statement yesterday:

SACRAMENTO – On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Staff Sgt. Russell J. Proctor, who bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation. The Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.
In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol today. Staff Sgt. Proctor’s family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.
Staff Sgt. Russell J. Proctor, 25, of Oroville, CA, died June 26, in Diyala province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX. Proctor was supporting Operation New Dawn.

Barbara Arrigoni (The Chicoer) speaks with Russell Proctor who gave his son up for adoption: "Proctor said his son had found him after turning 18, and that the young man had changed his name back to Proctor since then. Proctor said Russell like football, played guitar and sang, and remembers him as being funny and outgoing. [. . .] During their time together, the two men fished and talked a lot, and Proctor said they worked together at an equipment company in Oroville."

Emilo Campo Jr. is one of the 15 fallen. Dan Linehan (Mankato Free Press) quotes his mother Mirna Campo stating that her son had wanted to be a doctor but couldn't afford the costs of college. She notes, "He was very proud of what he was doing." And Minnesota residents should be proud of their elected officials because US House Rep Tim Walz, US Senator Al Franken and Minessota Governor Mark Dayton, click here, attended Campo's funeral. (Some US senators and governors couldn't even issue a statement on their state's fallen this month.) KARE (link has text and video) observed, "His picture seems to be on every page of his high school yearbook. Campo played varsity football, basketball, ran track, was a member of the Business Professionals of America, and sang in the choir." AP added that "when he died he also had a steady girlfriend, Samantha Crowley, who was prom queen when Campo was prom king in 2009." Brian Ojanpa (Mankato Free Press) explained Emilio Campo Jr.'s "death was the first war loss for Madelia since Vietnam and came as crushing news to friends and family of the outgoing former high school homecoming king. [. . .] Campo was described as a smooth talker, a ladies man, charismatic, and joyously impulsive." Campo's favorite quote is also noted "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."

David VanCamp died in the Iraq War last month. Shelley Hanson (The Intelligencer and The Wheeling News-Register) reported that David VanCamp's neighbors remember him as the kid who played "hockey and basketball in the streets with his friends." Amy Birch remembers, "We all hung out together. We played kickball and had a good time. He was a good-hearted person. It tore me up when I heard. Him being raised around here makes it harder to accept. He was a neighborhood-street kid. He got along with all the neighbors. . . . I've been in and out all day -- I'll just start crying. He was young, he still had a life to live. But he was doing this to help the rest of us."

Robert Gregory Tenney died in June. The Macon Telegraph reports the 29-year-old entered the military in December 2006 and had been awarded "an Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with combat service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and an Overseas Service Ribbon."

Dylan Jeffrey Johnson was another who died last month. Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reports that along with skateboarding and guitar playing and drum programming, his family noted he excelled at cooking, "Dylan inherited his ability to put together a great meal from scratch from his mother, using a wide variety of ingredients that he found in the kitchen. He and his mother enjoyed cooking meals together, and they tasted so good he had talked of entering a culinary school after his commitment to the Army was completed."

That's something he won't be able to pursue now. Everyone of the 15 had dreams for the future they carried with them. In his "About me" from his MySpace page, Christopher Fishbeck noted:

I'm a simple man with big dreams. I dream to become an Astronaut and orbit the earth. I dream to run in the olympics. I dream to become an American Hero. I dream to change the world. I dream to impact society. I dare humanity to evolve. I dream people will stop waiting on the world to change ( John Mayer ). I dream of running from San Diego to New York. I dream of traveling alone in the wild for months. I dream that the world will stop over populating itself. I dream for acceptance and cooperation. I dream of a world with common goals. I dream of space. I dream to make the impossible possible.

Michael Mello (Orange County Register -- link has text and video and a photo essay) quoted
his wife Stephanie Kidder remembering, "We were driving . . . A Katy Perry song came on (the radio) and he started dancing. Everything in our relationship was quite intense. We would fight, and even if it was my fault, he'd find a way to make up."

15 US soldiers died in Iraq when, had Barack kept to what the American voters thought he was promising, not one of them would have been there.
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