Veterans React To Rumsfeld's Questioning - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

12/09/04 - Lufkin

Veterans React To Rumsfeld's Questioning

by Chris Cato

Retired Sgt. Donald DuPree said, "If they really want to do everything safe, they'd put bigger engines in helicopters [and] line the helicopters with big sheets of steel so you would have a tank flying through the air. We don't have that, so you..."

"What about armor for your body, or communications -- ways to communicate," said Teresa Johniken, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans Association, while going back and fourth over the issue.

It's a two-way street, with opinions on both sides. One side is asking where is the armor these soldiers need? The other side is saying it's coming, but until it does, make do with what you have.

DuPree said, "What do we do? We don't send a patrol out tonight? Hey, you improvise. You put sandbags in your vehicle, okay? You do a little bit of praying, and you hope it's light shrapnel that hits you rather than a big 20MM round or something."

DuPree is a Vietnam Veteran. He says that's what you have to do in times of war. He also wants people to understand that there will be casualties.

"It's war, and people gotta realize that. And, in war, people die," said DuPree.

Johniken is among those who think the number of casualties would drop if the troop's equipment is improved.

Johniken said, "When a government says that money is unlimited to fight the war on terrorism, why do they not have what they need? Simple $20 dollar items."

Many East Texas veterans believe the reason this issue is not talked about much is that veterans of past wars were taught not to ask many questions, just follow orders. But the latest generation of soldiers are now asking. Some say that's a good thing.

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