Chester Responds to a Critic
One reader has taken issue with the account I gave of my time at Al-Qadisiyah that I posted two nights ago. See: War Story I'd like to offer a detailed response to this reader. Here goes:
Dear Sir, I see from the web site you were at Camp Edson. I remember Hwy 8 very well. I must protest your war story however. I can see you have quite the groupie "hanger ons".Friend, say what you wish about me, but please know that you are doing little to advance your opinion by insulting my readers. I correspond with quite a few and the ones that email me are uniformly intelligent, polite and interesting. Several are Viet Nam vets. Careful.
None of which made any comments that did any kind of justice to your piece. It wasn't the war story that I was hoping.[sic]Sorry your expectations were violated. Regular readers know that I was a staff officer. My stories are like this one -- not a lot of blood and guts. You should ask yourself sometime if the experiences of troops who were in support units is valuable at all from a historical perspective. Since that's all I have, that's what I wrote about. Feel free to post your own experiences at your own blog. If they're interesting and well-written, I'll link to them.
Also, you mentioned in a previous post -something about reservist [sic] being usually used for some kind of "rear guard",(protecting FOBs or some trash) which really pissed me off.I have just spent 30 minutes looking through my archives for the post that you mention. I remember it. What I said was something along the lines that reserve combat units often get less than premier jobs. Not because they can't do them, but because the actives get put there first. I'm talking about Marine units -- I am not as familiar with Army reserve units -- you don't say what service you are/were in. You are completely mischaracterizing what I wrote. It would be silly of me to say that reservists aren't skilled, or some such nonsense, for no other reason than that I happen to be one myself. Not active reserves, but my name is on that list in the Pentagon computer somewhere. They can reach out and grab me anytime. I've never insulted reservists on this site. I've worked with a great many who were equally or more professional and competent than active-duty Marines. 2nd Bn, 23rd Marines, a reserve unit, was attached to the 1st Marine Regiment during the invasion. From what I understand they routinely beat the other units in various training tests before the war.
I didnt say anything based on others who had thought so highly of your site including my father.Glad to hear he's a reader! Hope you'll both continue.
However, just letting you know, there were some "reserve" Marines killing a**holes left and rightAgain, I've never said otherwise. Reservists are skilled and valuable and hard-working on the whole -- just like everyone else.
when guys like you were reading fiction ,Polished off Heart of Darkness in about two hours one night. Heart of the Matter was more like 20 pages a day for two weeks. While deployed, I also read Command in War by Van Creveld since I worked in a headquarters, and re-read "Combat Service Support in Desert Shield/Desert Storm" since that's what I was doing. Took a look at Rommel's Attacks too, but didn't finish it. PME is continuous. Was Chesty wrong to read "Lee's Lieutenants" while campaigning in Korea? Was Patton wrong to read the Koran while on his way to invade Morroco? or was he wrong when he re-read Caesar's Gallic campaigns and secondary literature on William the Conqueror's battles while in Normandy? Before the deployment, General Mattis published a reading list -- much of it about the British campaign in Iraq in WWI. Would it have been wrong to read about this while deployed? Did you take a CD player with you? Did you ever listen to music while deployed, at war? Did you ever think of reading anything instead? Absolutely nothing wrong with listening to music -- I had that too. But how can there be anything wrong with professional reading?
watching moviesGlad to see you making such excellent use of old stereotypes. Didn't have time for many of these til I was back in Kuwait and we were waiting for flights. I took a couple of DVD's with me -- all comedies, cause I thought they would relieve stress.
and making sure they get to chow on time.Did you ever eat chow at all while deployed? If so, you have a support Marine to thank. Did you ever drink purified water, use a temporary structure, drive on an improved road, have fuel to be stored, live in a base camp, or have obstacles needing reduction? You're welcome. 7th Engineer Support Battalion did all of these things and more. I never said my experience was sexy or that I am Audie Murphy. I've never made myself out to be anything more than what I was -- a staff officer helping to run a battalion. When Hugh Hewitt called me, I told him I had only been a lieutenant and never in a firefight. His producer will vouch for that. You have no idea how depressing it can be to work on a battalion staff, especially in a support unit, in the midst of a major war, when your own first choice for a specialty was the infantry. The number of times I had bad luck in getting the assignment I wanted was one of the secondary reasons why I didn't stay in. I would have given a kidney -- or an arm -- to be in a combat unit. Even on the staff. That's what I joined for.
If thats not accurate to your experience, then I apoligieze, [sic]Gee, thanks.
but as far as war stories goes- like I said,thats[sic] not a real war story.See above re: importance of support troop experiences.
And when others like me come to this site and read... Think of this as the edited version to what they really want to say.They are welcome to say whatever they wish. My email address is in the sidebar and the comments are open to all. Reservists often get bad-mouthed a great deal by active-duty Marines. In fact, there are really three kinds of stereotypes that we are witnessing via your post: 1. You think I have spouted a common stereotype about reservists -- that they aren't up to snuff. You are wrong. 2. You hold an equally wrong stereotype about support troops -- that we don't do any work and are all a bunch of useless softies. In this you are either inexperienced, naive, or both. And wrong. 3. Are you enlisted? If so, then we have another great stereotype in play: you seem to buy into the idea that officers are useless in general. Wrong again. Anyone who's been around the block knows that there are good reservists and bad, good active duty Marines and bad, good officers and bad, good support troops and bad, etc, etc, etc. If you didn't like my story, fine. I don't have many others so you don't have much to worry about. But don't insult my readers or combat service support professionals. It only makes you sound small-minded. Besides, we all know the warfighters get the spotlight and are the prima-donnas -- and rightly so.