Columnist’s narrow view of heroism falls short

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Re: “Howell’s heroism saved students’ lives,” by Hal Tarleton, May 4:

Your column was excellent for the most part and well deserving for a hero such as Riley Howell. Sadly, you didn’t leave it with Mr. Howell. You had to pontificate on the U.S. military, a subject you apparently know little about.

Your words: “Let us applaud the heroes like Riley Howell and the passengers on Flight 93. America loves heroes so much that some people call anyone with a military service record a hero, although most veterans never faced hostile fire.”

You say you have to attack a machine gun nest or risk your life to save a comrade under fire to earn the title of hero.

Hal, have you ever put your life on the line? Or do you just sit on your backside and flapjaw about a subject you know little about? Are you a veteran?

There is not a single veteran who, when enlisting signed a contract that he would not be placed in harm’s way. My experience in Vietnam was in Marine Corps Phantom squadrons. A squadron had between 250 and 300 men. There was only on the average 40 officers who flew the aircraft in combat. According to you, they were the only heroes.

Let me educate you a little — those 260 officers and enlisted on the ground were the real heroes. They worked 15 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to ensure that those aircraft were fully ready to fly and were loaded with the correct ordnance and missiles.

As we taxied out, that plane captain saluted and he was saying, “Skipper, that aircraft is ready to fly,” and when we returned, his salute was saying, “Thanks for the great job you and your folks do.”

The admin clerk pushes papers all day, then at night has to stand guard with the security company. Every person enlisting in the military signs his life over to the need of the service.

You owe every veteran a sincere apology. God bless the U.S. military and everyone who serves it.

Art Tozzi