No One Asked
Us Two views from two
different War's veterans Because some of us do wish to hear from them!
Friends and Family:
The writing below was sent to me by Lt. Gen Fred McCorkle
(Retired), whom I had the honor of serving with as a door
gunner aboard squadron aircraft with HMM-262 in Vietnam.
We performed various missions (medi-vacs, troop
insertions/extractions, emergency recon extractions,
civilian rescues during monsoon season, and the like)
together for the greater part of a year in Vietnam. Fred
McCorkle was probably the best helicopter pilot and one of
the finest officers the Marine Corps has ever had within
its ranks ... bar none. He was the Career Marine at the
Pentagon in charge of the "Osprey Project" upon his
I send along the below writing by Major Stan Coerr, a
Reserve Career Marine Officer from this era, yet one who
performed similar missions for our country in a similar
role. For those who have never experienced combat for a
just cause on behalf of our nation and those oppressed in
this world that we attempt to aid, it would pay you to
read Major Coerr's writing, and to understand what's
important in such matters is not HOW we entered into
combat, but rather ... WHY.
I'm convinced the WHY with respect to "Operation Freedom"
in Iraq is a very just cause paid for with the blood and
toil of very brave men. I think you'll recognize my
signature block below. It couldn't be more truthful nor
appropriate for this particular message.
W. DALE DeBORD Sergeant, USMC, 1968-72; Gunner,
HMM-262, Vietnam, 1970-71 "Not as lean, not as mean,
but still a Marine."
secure your American freedoms. Not politicians."
NOTE FROM DALE:
Stan Coerr is a Super Cobra Attack Helicopter Pilot and
Forward Air Controller, and was recently selected for
Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He lives
in San Diego. Semper Fi, Lt. Col. Coerr.
Photos from Lt. Col. Coerr: Addressing the Lads,
Iraqi tank & flag and a Hero Photo.
Below: Calling Air 24 March 2003 - Each of the above photos are
thumbnails - click for full size image.
No One Asked Us
By Major Stan Coerr, USMCR
Bush coalesced American support behind invading Iraq, I am
told, using two arguments: Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction and the capability to deliver them, and Iraq
was a supporter of Al-Qaeda terrorism, and may have been
involved in the attacks of 9/11. Vicious words and
gratuitous finger-pointing keep falling back on these
points, as people insist that "we" were misled into what
started as a dynamic liberation and has become a bloody
counterinsurgency. Watching politicians declaim and
hearing television experts expound on why we went to war
and on their opinions of those running the White House and
Defense Department, I have one question.
When is someone going to ask the guys who were there?
What about the opinions of those whose lives were on the
line, massed on the Iraq-Kuwait border beginning in
February of last year? I don't know how President Bush got
the country behind him, because at the time I was living
in a hole in the dirt in northern Kuwait. Why have I not
heard a word from anyone who actually carried a rifle or
flew a plane into bad guy country last year, and who has
since had to deal with the ugly aftermath of a violent
liberation? What about the guys who had the most to
lose...what do they think about all this?
I was there. I am one of those guys who fought the war and
helped keep the peace. I am a Major in the Marine
Reserves, and during the war I was the senior American
attached to the 1 Royal Irish Battlegroup, a rifle
battalion of the British Army. I was commander of five
U.S. Marine air/naval gunfire liaison teams, as well as
the liaison officer between U.S. Marines and British Army
forces. I was activated on January 14, 2003, and 17 days
later I and my Marines were standing in Kuwait with all of
our gear, ready to go to war.
I majored in Political Science at Duke, and I graduated
with a Masters degree in government from the Kennedy
School at Harvard. I understand realpolitik, geopolitical
jujitsu, economics and the reality of the Arab world. I
know the tension between the White House, the UN, Langley
and Foggy Bottom. One of my grandfathers was a two-star
Navy admiral; my other grandfather was an ambassador. I am
not a pushover, blindly following whoever is in charge,
and I don't kid myself that I live in a perfect world. But
the war made sense then, and the occupation makes sense
As dawn broke on March 22, 2003, I became part of one of
the largest and fastest land movements in the history of
war. I went across the border alongside my brothers in the
Royal Irish, following the 5th Marine Regiment from Camp
Pendleton as they swept through the Ramaylah oil fields. I
was one those guys you saw on TV every night- filthy, hot,
exhausted. I think the NRA and their right-to-bear-arms
mantra is a joke, but by God I was carrying a loaded
rifle, a loaded pistol and a knife on my body at all
times. My boots rested on sandbags on the floor of my
Humvee, there to protect me from the blast of a land mines
I killed many Iraqi soldiers, as they tried to kill me and
my Marines. I did it with a radio, directing airstrikes
and artillery, in concert with my British artillery
officer counterpart, in combat along the Hamar Canal in
southern Iraq. I saw, up close, everything the rest of you
see in the newspapers: dead bodies, parts of dead bodies,
helmets with bullet holes through them, handcuffed POWs
sitting in the sand, oil well fires with flames reaching
100 feet into the air and a roar you could hear from over
a mile away.
I stood on the bloody sand where Marine Second Lieutenant
Therrel Childers was the first American killed on the
ground. I pointed a loaded weapon at another man for the
first time in my life. I did what I had spent 14 years
training to do, and my Marines - your Marines - performed
so well it still brings tears to my eyes to think about
it. I was proud of what we did then, and I am proud of it
Along with the violence, I saw many things that lifted my
heart. I saw thousands of Iraqis in cities like Qurnah and
Medinah - men, women, children, grandparents carrying
babies - running into the streets at the sight of us, the
first Western army to arrive. I saw them screaming,
crying, waving, cheering. They ran from their homes at the
sound of our Humvee tires roaring in from the south,
bringing bread and tea and cigarettes and photos of their
children. They chattered at us in Arabic, and we spoke to
them in English, and neither understood the other. The
entire time I was in Iraq, I had one impression from the
civilians I met: Thank God, finally someone has arrived
with bigger men and bigger guns to be, at last, on our
Let there be no mistake, those of you who don't believe in
this war: the Ba'ath regime were the Nazis of the second
half of the 20th century. I saw what the murderous, brutal
regime of Saddam Hussein wrought on that country through
his party and their Fedayeen henchmen. They raped,
murdered, tortured, extorted and terrorized those in that
country for 35 years. There are mass graves throughout
Iraq only now being discovered. 1st Battalion, 5th
Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, liberated a prison in Iraq
populated entirely by children. The Ba'athists brutalized
the weakest among them, and killed the strongest.
I saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear
reflects in the human soul.
The Ba'ath Party, like the Nazis before them, kept power
by spreading out, placing their officials in every city
and every village to keep the people under their boot.
Everywhere we went we found rifles, ammunition, RPG
rounds, mortar shells, rocket launchers, and artillery.
When we took over the southern city of Ramaylah, our
battalion commander tore down the Ba'ath signs and
commandeered the former regime headquarters in town
(which, by the way, was 20 feet from the local school.) My
commander himself took over the office of the local Ba'ath
leader, and in opening the desk of that thug found a set
of brass knuckles and a gun. These are the people who are
now in prison, and that is where they deserve to be.
The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the
same large, violent man come home every night, and you
have listened to his yelling and the crying and the
screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and
you have always known that he was beating his wife and his
children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask,
cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the
rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening
to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest,
meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and
you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag
him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and
abused...but now there is hope. You did the right thing.
I can speak with authority on the opinions of both British
and American infantry in that place and at that time. Let
me make this clear: at no time did anyone say or imply to
any of us that we were invading Iraq to rid the country of
weapons of mass destruction, nor were we there to avenge
9/11. We knew we were there for one reason: to rid the
world of a tyrant, and to give Iraq back to Iraqis.
None of us had even heard those arguments for going to war
until we returned, and we still don't understand the
confusion. To us, it was simple. The world needed to be
rid of a man who committed mass murder of an entire
people, and our country was the only one that could
project that much power that far and with that kind of
precision. We don't make policy decisions: we carry them
out. And none of us had the slightest doubt about how
right and good our actions were.
The war was the right thing to do then, and in hindsight
it was still the right thing to do. We can't overthrow
every murderous tyrant in the world, but when we can, we
should. Take it from someone who was there, and who stood
to lose everything. We must, and will, stay the course. We
owe it to the Iraqis, and to the world.
Note: I first heard from Dale
DeBord via e-mail after his son Lee, a ROTC Cadet addressed
the thousands gathered at our State Capitol for
Rally for America. We met,
we talked and we've exchanged messages often. Like so many
veterans from the Vietnam era, the demons lurk, lives go on
and wounds heal slowly.
Lee's own words from the podium that day in March 2003,
about the same time Major Stan Coerr is pictured above on
the ground in Iraq still ring in many hearts today and
always will. It's why I said "It just doesn't get any better
"My dear father is a Marine, a Sergeant in the Vietnam War,
he stepped up to duty when his country called."