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Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist,
author and a popular speaker. Born into a military
family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East
Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces
service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation
from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both
the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive
for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work,
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is
based in large part on his extensive experience in
Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman.
[go to Cucullu index]
A solider’s president is reelected…
[Gordon Cucullu] 11/5/04
we have a lot of talk floating around about ‘supporting the troops,’ it’s
interesting to ask the reciprocal: who do the troops support?
On the morning of Wednesday November 3, 2004 American soldiers,
sailors, airmen and Marines in the field answered that question
resoundingly: George W. Bush. Marines actually engaged in combat
operations around Fallujah, Iraq were cheering, laughing and
exchanging high-fives over the president’s re-election victory.
point of view this might seem odd. After all Senator John F.
Kerry ran as a war hero, a decorated veteran, and a man who
pledged to ‘bring the troops back home where they belong.’ Throughout
the campaign - indeed unceasingly since the 2000 campaign - Bush
has been excoriated by the mainstream media as a draft-evader
who hid in the National Guard, who was even absent without
permission from his unit. He was the son of an influence-peddling
father who pulled strings to evade combat. He was a ‘chickenhawk’ who
dared to risk others’ lives (Bush lies; soldiers die) while
avoiding risk of his own. With such a dismal, dare we say cowardly
record how could it be possible that American service personnel
support this guy?
Kerry by contrast waved his medals, including his Purple
like a classic politician’s bloody shirt. He saluted (in an
embarrassingly lame manner) to his primarily anti-war Democrat
constituency as a convention kick-off then ran a Steven Spielberg-assisted
editing job of a grainy black and white film that he had shot
of himself during the Vietnam War engaging in heroic activities.
He appeared at innumerable campaign sites in a leather bomber
jacket and made certain that his advance people had sufficient
number of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars supporters
in appropriate regalia seated in back of him during an appearance
so that they would be highly visible in any camera angle.
question Candidate Kerry ‘talked the talk’ about military
experience, compassion for soldiers, and concern for their
He spoke about bumping personnel levels and awarding pay raises
and improving housing and all of the things that an outsider
would automatically assume mattered to the troops and their
families. But despite all of this he failed to pass the military
test’ of which the bar seems so high that it can never be met,
the military sniff test is rather basic. Many make the cut.
All it takes to pass is truth, honesty, and moral and physical
courage. No single group of people can see through a phony
as rapidly and unerringly as the military. Attempts to fool
them are always unveiled and mercilessly derided. Real soldiers
know that approbation from peers - comrades in arms who shared
the sacrifice equally - counts for more than medals and awards.
he was never able - despite gargantuan effort - to convince
soldiers that he was one of them. From the start he made the
egregious error that distinguishes the real from the pretend:
the flaunted his valor awards and wounds. Unfortunately what
looked impressive from a distance wilted under close scrutiny:
the inflated valor awards, the suspect Purple Hearts, manipulating
the ‘three Purple Heart’ rule to leave the war early and, worst
of all, abandoning his crew to the war from which he fled.
The final blow was the appearance of peers - Swift Boat veterans
and former POWs - who challenged his record and punctured his
than see Bush as a chickenhawk, the line that the Kerry people
to sell, the military saw Kerry as a ‘chickenshit,’ a term
that in military jargon is about as nasty and degrading as
it gets. Late historian Steve Ambrose documents the use of
the term in his bestseller, Band of Brothers: someone who ‘generates maximum anxiety over matters of minimum significance.’ They
watched Kerry posture and pontificate and contrasted his manner
with that of Bush who projected sincerity, conviction, and
moral clarity. It was no contest.
of the time the American military is apolitical. Service
strongly held opinions and ideas but place the office over
the man. You may think the colonel is a jerk but you salute
the uniform, the rank, not the individual. That is the military
way. On rare the military ‘adopts’ a leader - a president,
general, or sports figure - and idolizes that person. Always
it is a mutual affection society. The late Bob Hope and Martha
Raye were two Hollywood stars that were unquestioningly loved
by the troops. General Omar Bradley was considered the ‘soldier’s
general.’ And George W. Bush is quite simply the ‘soldier’s
are not planned; they just happen. But that confluence of mutual
respect and affection is a bond more strongly held than most
friendships. The loyalty of America's military to their commander-in-chief
is something wonderful to behold because of the genuine, unaffected
nature of the respect from all parties. It is an amazing morale
boost for the troops that will help them through the tough
times ahead. And President Bush would say the same thing from
his perspective: knowing how the troops feel about him has
to be a solace while occupying the most stressful leadership
position in the world.
this fortunate happenstance is a unifying element that we ought
to embrace with pride and comfort. We will need such unity
of purpose in the difficult days ahead of us as we fight this
brutal war to victory. CRO
Gordon Cucullu 2004