Letters: Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Telling Their Stories

To the editor: I just finished reading your article about 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, known as 3/5 (“Call Sign: HAVOC,” July 19, 2006). My husband is a corporal with Jump Platoon; he was in the vehicle with Cpl. Jason Morrow and Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar when they died. I just wanted to say thanks for such a great article about all the things Marines go through while they are in Iraq. I know that all of the guys are glad that their stories are told and their fallen brothers are not forgotten.

Katherine Johnson

The Woodlands

To the editor: I read your report from Fallujah about the 3/5 and Bravo 1/1 via a link from the Marine Parents web site. I have to tell you, it really hit home when writer Don Jones said that when he left, he searched the casualty reports every day, hoping he would not see their names.

My son, Lance Cpl. Phil Martini, was the first one killed back in April from Bravo 1/1. I have looked at the casualty report just about every day since then. I am tied to these Marines. I have tried to stay away from the “violence update,” but I can’t. My sons and I think of the conditions the Marines are under; we don’t complain here anymore that it is too hot or cold. Or that we don’t have enough of something. Or about having to do something we don’t like.

I pray for these Marines all day, as they are all part of my sorrow and grief. With every casualty, I think of the mother and the family and how only military families seem to know the reality of this war. Yet the Marines just keep going and going, because they are Marines! That is something they know how to do, and I can’t thank them enough for their bravery and courage in doing a great job fighting a war with rules that only they must follow.

This country is the greatest country in the world, and we have the best and brightest minds the world has to offer. Let’s think about this Iraq situation. Something different can and should be tried if it means more American lives will be saved.

Laura Martini

Lansing, Ill.

To the editor: Thank you for the great piece on 3/5. I have friends in H&S and in Weapons Companies. I check for news of the battalion every day. Over their last two deployments to Iraq, I have found far less “positive” press coverage than they deserve. I saved your article to show them when they arrive home in a few weeks. I think they will be very pleased to have it. It will naturally be a happy time for them, but also a trying time because eight of their members are currently being held in the brig at Camp Pendleton awaiting courts martial.

I want to believe that these men will have the benefit of a fair and open investigation and hearing, but almost every day, through word and deed, the Marine Corps telegraphs that this will not be the case. Sadly, the lesson they have learned from the Lt. Pantano case is not to use greater care in making charges and doing investigations. Instead, by withholding evidence, leaking select information, and using draconian restraint measures on the accused, they hope to ensure a weak defense effort. In addition, most of the military attorneys provided for the defense are not based locally, some are not currently on active duty, and most already have enormous caseloads, giving them little or no time for these clients.

Meanwhile, a top-flight team of prosecutors has been gathered and set up on base and given every resource. I cannot help but feel this is part of some sort of new hare-brained scheme cooked up by the Pentagon to win the hearts and minds of the very people you write about, the ones who sit in front of their houses and wait to watch the Marines get blown to bits. In the past, I would not have thought this possible, but after so many fiascos caused by poor leadership, now I just do not know. It is good that you say the grunts are able to compartmentalize things and do not see or care about the big picture, because I think they will have to be able to do that all their lives to maintain some level of sanity. I am glad to have the fine article to show to my friends.

Mark Swisshelm

San Clemente, Cal.

To the editor: We read your article in Fort Worth Weekly on the Marines in Iraq with great interest. You did a wonderful job — it’s got great impact. I hope Don Jones’ son Brian is well and that he hears from him often.

Vickie Rainwater

Fort Worth

To the editor: I am the mother of a Marine with 3/2, which just arrived in Habbaniyah last week as replacements for 3/5. This is our second deployment. The last time was on the border with Syria. It doesn’t get any easier. But I would rather know than not know what he is facing. Thank you for your honest, well-written article about conditions on the ground there.

Tammie Greene

Manteo, N.C.

Carswell Outcry?

To the editor: After reading “Torture of the Powerless” (Aug. 2, 2006), it’s easy to see why Betty Brink is one of my favorite reporters and why Fort Worth Weekly is my paper of choice when trying to dig out the truth on subjects the Fort Worth Star-tell-a-lie will not discuss, much less cover like a “real” newspaper.

This story isn’t new, nor the first on the subject from Betty. Thanks anyway for following up on the subject of massive abuse at the Carswell facility. As Kathleen Rumpf has testified, it doesn’t seem to matter whether an inmate may be a killer or a political prisoner, as Kathleen was — one can count on being treated with the same abuse and neglect. The reason, I think, is that, once in the “system,” an inmate is no longer human in the eyes of the people responsible for operating Carswell. The inmate essentially becomes a budgetary concern, and real medical care is expensive. Heaven knows they certainly can’t afford treatment for someone faking a massive seizure. I know of what I speak because I have had the displeasure of trying to collect for medical services rendered to and for Carswell “guests.”

Where is the outrage? Where are our elected officials who so smugly claim to be advocates for the underdog and the disadvantaged? Where is Kay “I Want a Lake” Granger? Excuse me, I forgot. She’s currently focused on creating a legacy lake and development project north of downtown, making sure her son has a job with the regional water district for which he has no experience, and supporting those poor downtrodden wealthy souls aptly called “The 7th Street Gang” because the bastards literally steal from us all. Perhaps we shouldn’t blame Little Kay though — after all, people in Carswell can’t vote, and I’ve never known a politician who gave a damn about anyone who cannot vote!

Louis McBee

Fort Worth

Taxes and Gambling

To the editor: In Dan McGraw’s article (Second Thought, July 26, 2006), he stated that all of these Texas dollars are flying out the window to states such as Oklahoma and Louisiana for gambling, and if that money stayed in Texas, it would finance our school system. Has he ever been to a school in Oklahoma or Louisiana? Texas schools pay better and educate children better. Texas ranks 24, Oklahoma ranks 39, and Louisiana ranks 45. Now 24 is nothing to brag about, but if gambling revenues were going to fix the problems of our schools, I think Oklahoma and Louisiana would rank higher than Texas. By the way, Nevada is 47. His second point is that since everyone does it, why not collect taxes on it. Sure, and tax drugs and prostitution while you’re at it.

Dale Busbice


No Vacancy

To the editor: Do any of your writers ever tire of being part of a non-stop marketing apparatus for The Burning Hotels? The Hotels make great music, and they’re great guys, but c’mon. Paris Hilton would blush at this level of attention.

I first saw them mentioned in the Weekly’s pages about a year ago and learned that, apparently, playing your first set and a handful of songs qualifies a band for a full-page write-up. Since that day, I don’t think a single installment of the Weekly has passed without something being said of them. This could actually be justified — if so much of it weren’t inconsequential minutiae. I see their name thrown into this week’s issue (Aug. 2, 2006) twice; in both cases, seemingly, just because Anthony Mariani or HearSay likes the way “Burning Hotels” looks in print.

We in Fort Worth are lucky enough to have a pretty diverse and vibrant musical community, and I can’t help but feel that your publication would better serve that community and the people who love it by covering something more relevant than, say, a sighting of Hotels’ frontman Chance Morgan at IHOP.

Travis Dixon

Fort Worth

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