U.S. Soldier Questions Flag Proclamation Policy After Virginia Tech Slayings
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    Default U.S. Soldier Questions Flag Proclamation Policy After Virginia Tech Slayings



    WASHINGTON A U.S. soldier says it's ironic that American flags were flown at half-staff for victims lost in the Virginia Tech shooting rampage last week since "it is never lowered" when U.S. service members are killed in action.

    President Bush issued a flag proclamation last week after a lone gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

    Army Sgt. Jim Wilt, the author of an internal Defense Department opinion piece that was briefly released to the public on Monday, questioned why flags are not lowered for fallen service members like Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of Wilt's task force who was killed on April 20.

    "I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. service member," Wilt wrote in a posting from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff to honor the slain Virginia Tech students.

    Wilt said the loss of a service member hits "closer to home" since many people have a family member or know someone in the military, but that may be why each death gets less attention.

    "People have come to expect casualty counts in the nightly news; they don't expect to see 32 students killed," Wilt wrote.

    Wilt's piece was not meant for the public eye, but leaked out from an internal Army site, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan said.

    The official said the release was mistakenly submitted under the Combined Joint Task Force 82 banner as a news release though it was intended to have been a release for U.S. Department of Defense internal information media as an opinion piece, representing the views of an individual American soldier.

    The spokesman told FOX News that Wilt is a true patriot and a dedicated paratrooper, and added that soldiers are free to express their personal views as long as they are represented as their opinions and not those of the military.

    Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, who works with Wilt at the U.S.-led coalition public affairs office, said the essay is a "soldier's commentary, not the view of the coalition and not the view of the U.S. forces." Welch added that such outspoken opinion pieces are rare.

    Wilt did not diminish the "shock factor of the Virginia massacre," but said fallen service members need to be honored, too.

    "I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases' flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies," Wilt wrote. "I can understand not lowering flags across the country for the death of a single service member. But shouldn't the service member's state lower the flag to show their respect to the fallen trooper, if only for one day? Some states do, but not all of them."

    NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that the flags of all its troop-contributing nations are flown at half-staff for about 72 hours after a service member's death "as a mark of respect when there is an ISAF fatality."

    Wilt noted that hundreds of thousands of men and women have died on behalf of the flag.

    "When we honor the flag by saluting it, we are honoring what it stands for. We honor freedom, the people it represents and a way of life," he wrote.
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    I totally agree with this. It's a shame he said that it wasn't supposed to be leaked, but I'm glad it was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post


    WASHINGTON A U.S. soldier says it's ironic that American flags were flown at half-staff for victims lost in the Virginia Tech shooting rampage last week since "it is never lowered" when U.S. service members are killed in action.

    President Bush issued a flag proclamation last week after a lone gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

    Army Sgt. Jim Wilt, the author of an internal Defense Department opinion piece that was briefly released to the public on Monday, questioned why flags are not lowered for fallen service members like Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten, a member of Wilt's task force who was killed on April 20.

    "I find it ironic that the flags were flown at half-staff for the young men and women who were killed at VT yet it is never lowered for the death of a U.S. service member," Wilt wrote in a posting from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff to honor the slain Virginia Tech students.

    Wilt said the loss of a service member hits "closer to home" since many people have a family member or know someone in the military, but that may be why each death gets less attention.

    "People have come to expect casualty counts in the nightly news; they don't expect to see 32 students killed," Wilt wrote.

    Wilt's piece was not meant for the public eye, but leaked out from an internal Army site, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan said.

    The official said the release was mistakenly submitted under the Combined Joint Task Force 82 banner as a news release though it was intended to have been a release for U.S. Department of Defense internal information media as an opinion piece, representing the views of an individual American soldier.

    The spokesman told FOX News that Wilt is a true patriot and a dedicated paratrooper, and added that soldiers are free to express their personal views as long as they are represented as their opinions and not those of the military.

    Sgt. 1st Class Dean Welch, who works with Wilt at the U.S.-led coalition public affairs office, said the essay is a "soldier's commentary, not the view of the coalition and not the view of the U.S. forces." Welch added that such outspoken opinion pieces are rare.

    Wilt did not diminish the "shock factor of the Virginia massacre," but said fallen service members need to be honored, too.

    "I think it is sad that we do not raise the bases' flag to half-staff when a member of our own task force dies," Wilt wrote. "I can understand not lowering flags across the country for the death of a single service member. But shouldn't the service member's state lower the flag to show their respect to the fallen trooper, if only for one day? Some states do, but not all of them."

    NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that the flags of all its troop-contributing nations are flown at half-staff for about 72 hours after a service member's death "as a mark of respect when there is an ISAF fatality."

    Wilt noted that hundreds of thousands of men and women have died on behalf of the flag.

    "When we honor the flag by saluting it, we are honoring what it stands for. We honor freedom, the people it represents and a way of life," he wrote.
    I seem to remember this thing that happens every year...what is it called...they have parades...tons of news coverage...what is it called...? Oh yeah, Memorial Day. And there's another day we observe...what the hell is it called...im not sure where my brain is this morning...oh yeah! Veterans Day, thats it! Then we also have the Marine Corps birthday, birthday of the Army, Navy, etc. I would even say that July 4th is a service member related holiday. Hell, the month of May is basically a national military appreciation month.

    Service members are honored plenty, perhaps to much. Everytime I mention having been a Marine somebody feels the need to thank me...for something (im not sure they even know, people just think they should). I don't recall too many people thanking someone just because they went to college, they do as much to help the country as any service member.

    Oh, and by the way it was the Army Reserves birthday yesterday.
    Last edited by willy4pres; 04.24.07 at 08:14 AM.

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    Any violent death is saddening but this was 32 innocent students who got blasted. Of course the place is going to want to commemorate them.

    Flags at half mast for fallen soldiers. A nice thought for sure but lets be honest....who can even keep up with the body count in an actual war? I'm sure all the towns where these servicemen come from salutes them, where they would have been personally known.

    This is meant as no disrespect to soldiers.
    A man could lose himself in a country like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willy4pres View Post
    Service members are honored plenty, perhaps to much. Everytime I mention having been a Marine somebody feels the need to thank me...for something (im not sure they even know, people just think they should). I don't recall too many people thanking someone just because they went to college, they do as much to help the country as any service member.

    I agree that service members are honored plenty. I wouldn't say "too much."
    And if you want to thank a college student, you can thank me. You can thank me for partying and getting laid a lot. Oh, and academically I was slightly above average. Almost forgot about that.

    As far as honoring service members, I'm referring to honoring the ones that see actual combat and are stationed in freedom-threatening places. I'm not referring to the ones that are drinking Mai-Tai's as it runs down the crack of some chick's ass in Hawaii. I have a friend that served in the Army and was sent down to Panama back in '89 or '90 during that conflict and he was in the thick of some combat. I had another friend that was in the Navy and he went from Hawaii, to San Diego, to the Phillipines, to Spain, to Italy, to Florida, back to Hawaii, and now back to San Diego. He worked on electronics. This might sound rude but I don't really feel the need to honor him for his services.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy812 View Post
    I agree that service members are honored plenty. I wouldn't say "too much."
    And if you want to thank a college student, you can thank me. You can thank me for partying and getting laid a lot. Oh, and academically I was slightly above average. Almost forgot about that.

    As far as honoring service members, I'm referring to honoring the ones that see actual combat and are stationed in freedom-threatening places. I'm not referring to the ones that are drinking Mai-Tai's as it runs down the crack of some chick's ass in Hawaii. I have a friend that served in the Army and was sent down to Panama back in '89 or '90 during that conflict and he was in the thick of some combat. I had another friend that was in the Navy and he went from Hawaii, to San Diego, to the Phillipines, to Spain, to Italy, to Florida, back to Hawaii, and now back to San Diego. He worked on electronics. This might sound rude but I don't really feel the need to honor him for his services.
    Yeah, I can see what your saying. But, all those extra service members are there to support the boys at the pointy end of the spear. Ninety five percent of our armed forces are there just to support the infantry. All those ships, planes, tanks, humvees, and the people who keep them running are only there to help the grunts shoot bad guys.

    Each time our country fires a shot in anger there are litterly thousands and thousands of men and women responsible for allowing that shot to take place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willy4pres View Post
    Yeah, I can see what your saying. But, all those extra service members are there to support the boys at the pointy end of the spear. Ninety five percent of our armed forces are there just to support the infantry. All those ships, planes, tanks, humvees, and the people who keep them running are only there to help the grunts shoot bad guys.

    Each time our country fires a shot in anger there are litterly thousands and thousands of men and women responsible for allowing that shot to take place.
    Yeah, I know what you're saying. I kind of thought that after I wrote my last post, that everyone in the armed forces serves a purpose.
    I think my views stem from the fact that I'm not happy with our involvement in this war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy812 View Post
    Yeah, I know what you're saying. I kind of thought that after I wrote my last post, that everyone in the armed forces serves a purpose.
    I think my views stem from the fact that I'm not happy with our involvement in this war.
    You and me both man.

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    I wish I could hurt some of the people responsible for bullshiting us about the Lynch and Tillman stories.

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    Yeah no shit.

    I think the flag should be at half-mast for the duration of this never-ending war. Jeez, all the soldiers are just names in the paper as reports of the latest casualties. This war has gone on way too long and we've paid dearly with the numbers of young soldiers killed.

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