The Army is full of guys like Staff Sgt. Scott Plavney, 36, of
He was among a team of 1st Cavalry Division soldiers that last week checked on an abandoned clinic in
That's a bad sign, like in the westerns when everyone clears the dusty main drag as the bad guys ride into town.
"This is a perfect example of how well it's going," Plavney said, prompting me to think he was nuts. "There's a boy walking down the street with a bag of food."
My paranoia meter shot up. Maybe that kid was out there to lull the soldiers into complacency. There is danger everywhere in this city and, for that matter, all of
So when I think of how small the military is, the many sacrifices it makes and how unlikely most Americans are to know anyone on the front lines, I wonder about the wisdom of an all-volunteer service.
I wondered some more after reading a message from an old boss at The Florida Times-Union in
"I hope you are doing well," he wrote in a message left on my blog. "My son is in
That would be the 82nd Airborne Division. My heart sank. A longtime friend in
Now in our middle age, it's our turn to watch the kids get shot at. They call or e-mail to say everything is fine. They make small talk. They don't tell you about the doors they kick down or the roadside bomb that barely missed them. They figure you don't need to know about that, and they're right.
I think about these things more when covering funerals for
The weight of this war falls as much on the parents, spouses and siblings of those back home as it does here. In some ways, perhaps, it's easier on the soldiers and Marines in the war zone because they bond together so tightly.
It's an amazing thing to watch. These guys are tough, well trained and motivated. And they're great to write about.
This is a brave bunch out here, but my heart goes out to their loved ones back home. It takes a lot of guts to be a soldier's dad.
Just ask Mark Middlebrook."