Ex-Bush Supporter Asks: Why Wasn't My Son Properly Equipped in Iraq?
The Washington Post Magazine ran a lengthy piece in yesterday's magazine about the pro-war Hart family, whose son John wasn't provided the proper armor to avoid major injuries and in this case, death. This should be required reading for everyone who claims to "support the troops." As the House (most members have never served in war) passes a measure supporting the troops, the very troops they claim to support are without the proper gear and families are being completely destroyed in the process.
And what about the conservative pro-war talking heads? Will they do their patriotic duty by publicizing this very important story?
Like so many pro-war families, Brian, John's father, began to question the war during phone conversations:
Don't believe spinmeisters on TV, Brian recalls his son saying; the Iraqi insurgency is real and building. John and his buddies in Charlie Company of the 508th Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade were patrolling ever longer distances in thin-skinned Humvees suited for hauling cargo, not for carrying soldiers under fire.In previous calls, John told his father he'd been issued body armor with plates to small to shield his chest and a broken rifle.
John and Pfc. Chris Williams were sent to hunt for rocket-lobbers in Kirkuk on October 18, 2003:
"I'm like, uh, why are they sending us?" Williams recalls. "We were returning kitchen equipment. We were not combat-effective . . . You are going to investigate a rocket attack. So you know they have rockets. Why send guys in a rickety Humvee to chase guys who have rockets?"After their son's death, the Hart's continued to support the war. Then Brian began asking questions and seeking the truth:
Williams didn't ask his questions aloud. "I was a private," recalls Williams, now a clerk at a Blockbuster Video in Washington state. "I wasn't supposed to ask questions."
He flew to Washington two days before John's funeral at Arlington to question the soldier escorting his son's body home -- Chris Williams, who'd been riding next to John during the fatal ambush. Williams told him that the bullet that killed Bernstein went right through the thin metal skin of the unarmored Humvee and that the vehicle had not even a simple gun shield for John to take cover behind when he returned fire.Brian eventually learned that the Bush administration flat out lied about the money it was spending on the war and equipment to properly protect the troops. He eventually began speaking out against the war and was alienated by his pro-war Republican relatives in Texas. This quote says it all:
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was planning to attend John's November 4 funeral. Brian contacted his office and asked if he and Kennedy could meet before the service to talk. Some of Brian's relatives were aghast. Brian grew up in a family of fundamentalist Christians who vote Republican. At the University of Texas, Brian was president of the campus Republicans. Now some of his Texas relatives warned Brian not to be seen with Kennedy, he recalls. Brian didn't care. To get answers, he needed allies. He even called John Kerry's presidential campaign; but nobody called back, he says. Kerry did send an aide to John's funeral.
"There's virtually no communication anymore," he says, choking up as he speaks. "The president says one thing, and I am telling them that's not the truth. It's unresolvable."