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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]
In A Combat Zone
Small gifts gratitude goes a long way...
[Gordon Cucullu] 12/20/04
morning I appeared with the hosts of Fox & Friends.
The gang was worried about how our soldiers were reacting to
being in a combat zone for the holidays. Recall that in addition
to all the ‘normal’ nastiness of Iraq the Fallujah
battle was still far from complete. American Marines and soldiers
were taking casualties and the scenes of house-to-house fighting
were especially bitter. ‘How do soldiers react in such
conditions?’ the hosts asked. ‘Do they get depressed?
Lose their focus? Become less effective?’
Now, a few weeks later we are about to celebrate the second
of the most meaningful and emotional holidays in our country,
Christmas. On top of a Thanksgiving away from home, how will
the troops likely react to Christmas made even worse by bombs,
rockets and mortars: a Christmas not of decorated trees and jingling
bells but suicide cars bombers and IEDs. A Christmas perhaps
even more stressful for our Reserve and National Guard forces
who might be expected to be less prepared mentally for the abrupt
absence from hearth and home. These are all good points to explore.
One obvious thing
about holidays is that they are anticipated. Anyone with a
calendar knows what’s coming and can prepare
for it mentally. Troops know that this season is one in which
home, family, and peace are celebrated, indeed cherished. Likewise
they realize – more acutely than many of their civilian
counterparts – how precious those things can be. The troops
also are aware that their actions and sacrifice means that more
Americans will be able to enjoy the special moments that they
have given up willingly.
Troops know that even
if gratitude is in short supply from some Americans they are
willing to make the sacrifice nonetheless.
But we want them to know that for the majority of Americans we
are deeply grateful and proud of them. For that reason, among
many others, it is incumbent upon us not in a combat zone to
make certain that we express our thanks for those who are in
harm’s way. There are many ways that this can be done.
Some organizations like the Special Forces Association encourage
you to send phone cards to military hospitals. One hospital we
know has lots of wounded patients and has run out of phone cards.
Send them to Tripler Army
Medical Center, PAO, ATTN.: MCHK-IO, 1 Jarrett White Road,
Honolulu, HI 96859. They will get to the
recuperating wounded soldiers there and will be a great Christmas
present: a chance to phone friends and family at home.
like the Scott
Vallely Memorial Fund,
send personal packages to the troops. These shoe-box size kits
include many of the items that the troops like but find hard
to get such as insect repellent, power, soap, personal grooming
items, paperback books and many other ‘nice to have’ things
that are tough to procure in the field. Other organizations like
Foundation and Freedom
Alliance specialize in assisting widows
and orphans of soldiers lost in combat. These organizations try
to assist in widows finding employment, offer scholarships for
children, and help with many other aspects of painful readjustment.
Another organization worthy of note and eminently deserving of
our support is the Wounded Warrior
Project that helps, as the name indicates, wounded soldiers.
Even the most severely wounded soldiers, those with loss of vision,
limbs, or mobility, are given all assistance possible to help
cope with a traumatic situation. A donation to any of these groups
is a tangible way of expressing your gratitude.
These listings are
just a sampling of what is out there to help our troops. And
remember, we can help at any time, not just during
the holidays. Recall that many of these troops get their news
sporadically from the mainstream media and as a consequence hear
only negative reports about their behavior and accomplishments.
Many of them don’t realize how much we think about them
and how appreciative we are for their efforts. For those risking
their lives on a daily basis a pat on the back from a grateful
America can only help. What more do they need to do to win our
support and gratitude? So send a note or an e-mail to those in
harm’s way. Tell them how proud you are of them.
A cautionary note:
we want to help the troops – while
they are deployed and when they return – but don’t
under any circumstances feel sorry for them. Pity is not an admirable
virtue either given or received. The last thing – absolutely
the last thing – these troops want is our pity. They are
well trained, highly motivated, and cognizant of their mission.
They are aware of what great things they have already accomplished,
and more than anything they are tough – mentally and physically.
They want respect and deserve no less than all we can give them.
They are the greatest generation of military we have ever put
into the field.
This holiday season
you have the opportunity to reach out beyond your immediate
circle of friends and family to a family you may
not realize you even have: America’s military family. They
are dependent upon us for support; we are totally dependent on
them for our security, safety, and way of life. Help soldiers
this Christmas. You’ll feel better for it and so will they.
Merry Christmas everyone! tRO
giving a signed copy of Gordon’s exciting book Separated
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin to those
on your gift list. Readers and media say it’s timely,
interesting, entertaining and informative.
Gordon Cucullu 2004