Tennille mourns death of soldier in Afghanistan

Associated Press
An Army team carries a transfer case holding Holmes' remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The 34-year-old Guardsman was killed by an improvised explosive device June 26.
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TENNILLE, Ga. --- Sgt. David A. Holmes didn't want his family back home to know how rough it was.

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A sign set up by the city of Tennille, Ga., gives a message to the family of Sgt. David A. Holmes, who was killed in Afghanistan.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
A sign set up by the city of Tennille, Ga., gives a message to the family of Sgt. David A. Holmes, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Since being deployed to Afghanistan in September with the Swainsboro-based 810th Engineer Company of the Georgia Army National Guard, he sent regular dispatches through Facebook, and he chatted with his wife, Latonya, over the Internet about the children, the baby and the classes she was taking in Milledgeville to become a medical assistant, family members said.

But he wouldn't talk about the war -- not how he felt about it, not what kind of missions he was involved in, and not about the dangers he faced.

"He just tried to keep us as less worried as possible, because he knew that we didn't want him over there," said his sister, Tina Holmes. "He knew if he would have said one little thing, we would have been all worried, so he kept that to himself."

Now, trepidation has been supplanted by crushing grief. Two soldiers, one an Army chaplain, came to Latonya Holmes' door June 27, informing her that her husband had been killed the day before.

According to a Department of Defense news release, insurgents killed Holmes, 34, with an improvised explosive device in the Sayed Abad district in the central east region of Afghanistan.

The Georgia Guard's state public affairs officer said Holmes was on a route clearance mission. Three other soldiers were involved -- two were shipped to a German hospital, and another was only slightly wounded and returned to duty, Lt. Col. Ken Baldowski said.

Of the 1,057 American service members killed in and around Afghanistan since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, Holmes is the closest loss to the Augusta area. Originally from Batesville, Miss., he spent the past four years living in Washington County, just south of Sandersville, in Tennille.

His death came during a particularly violent month in what is now the nation's longest-running war. Fifty-nine Americans died in June, 10 of them during the same week as Holmes. On the same day, another Georgian, Marine Lance Cpl. William T. Richards, 20, of Trenton, died in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

On Monday, Air Force teams off-loaded their bodies together in flag-draped transfer cases at Dover Air Force Base. Latonya Holmes made the trip to Delaware for the ceremony. On Thursday, back at her home in Tennille, she was too distraught to speak to a reporter.

"It's hard," Tina Holmes said of her sister-in-law, who was resting in a back room. "Trying to take one day at a time. She's struggling every day. She's barely been sleeping."

As for their children, "I don't think they quite understand right now," she said.

'I'll be back in a little while'

After graduating from high school in 1995, Holmes joined the Marines and later switched to the Navy. He was a Navy SEAL when he met his future wife in Beaufort, S.C., through her sister, Erica Thomas, and her Marine husband.

Four years ago, the couple married and moved to her family's home county. They had four children between them, the youngest a 1-year-old son.

Holmes worked full time as a guard at Washington State Prison and part time as a security officer at Jefferson County Correctional Institution. For an extra paycheck, he joined the 810th, part of the Augusta-based 878th Engineer Battalion, and was working toward military retirement, relatives said.

"It was to provide for his family," Tina Holmes said. "It was stable, benefits, all that, because he definitely was a provider. He made sure his wife and kids didn't want for anything."

Thomas, Holmes' sister-in-law, said that when he shipped out in September, he said only, "I'll be back in a little while," with the attitude that the deployment was just another job to do. Tina Holmes said she understood her brother's job in Afghanistan was to clear debris off roads.

But route clearance is far more treacherous than that. The 810th is one of three companies under the command of the Missouri-based 203rd Engineer Battalion, known as "Houn' Dawgs," responsible for sniffing out and disabling IEDs on roads, according to a January article by American Forces Press Service.

It's considered one of the most dangerous and important missions in Afghanistan, the article said.

In a May blog post, the 203rd's public affairs officer described soldiers walking ahead of convoys, looking for buried, ultra-thin copper wires connecting road bombs to distant power sources, and cutting them.

He said the insurgents, keen to the tactic, had begun setting bombs in trees and wheat fields where the soldiers patrol, "hoping to catch one or more of them in a deadly trap."

Baldowski said Holmes' death is under investigation by the Army, and he had no specifics on the circumstances.

The death hit hard in Tennille, population 1,439. The city set up a marquee sign near the railroad tracks on 4th Street expressing sympathy for the family. All week, family, friends and Holmes' co-workers from the prison were in and out of the house, sharing tears, hugs and food.

"Even the mailman, he came in and told us he was sorry for the loss," Tina Holmes said.

Thomas said it amazes her how many people considered her brother-in-law a friend, despite his being a recent transplant to the small town. He used to play pick-up basketball at the Washington County Recreation Department center in Sandersville, she said, and he spent a lot of time at the public library.

He had to go there to log on to the Internet after his son broke the screen on their home computer, she said.

"He wasn't a stranger to anybody," Thomas said. "He came here, and I've been here my whole life, and he knew people I didn't even know."

Recent casualties heavy

As the war in Iraq winds down -- with combat operations scheduled to end Aug. 31 -- the war in Afghanistan is heating up. President Obama has initiated a surge and recently replaced top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus.

Once considered a safer place to deploy than Iraq, Afghanistan has seen more than five times as many American deaths so far this year.

A look at casualty figures, as of Friday:

WHAT: Operation Iraqi Freedom (renamed Operation New Dawn this year)

START DATE: March 19, 2003

TOTAL MILITARY DEATHS: 4,400

MILITARY WOUNDED IN ACTION: 31,874

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CIVILIAN WORKER DEATHS: 13

MILITARY DEATHS IN 2010: 39

WHAT: Operation Enduring Freedom

START DATE: Oct. 7, 2001

MILITARY DEATHS: 1,057 in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan; 78 in Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen

MILITARY WOUNDED IN ACTION: 6,623

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CIVILIAN WORKER DEATHS: 2

MILITARY DEATHS IN 2010: 207

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Sgt. David A. Holmes

AGE: 34

FAMILY: Wife, Latonya; daughter, age 15; son, age 10; daughter, age 10; son, age 1

HOMETOWN: Batesville, Miss.

Residence: Tennille, Ga.

UNIT: Georgia Army National Guard's Swainsboro-based 810th Engineer Company, part of the Augusta-based 878th Engineer Battalion

PRIOR MILITARY SERVICE: Marines, Navy

WHAT HE SAID BEFORE HE DEPLOYED: "I'm really looking forward to this deployment because of where we're going and the new equipment we have received and been trained on. This deployment will be different than when I deployed before with the Marines as a truck driver during my first deployment." -- According to an article posted on GeorgiaGuard.com

CIVILIAN OCCUPATION: Full-time prison guard at Washington State Prison, part-time security officer at Jefferson County Correctional Institution

KILLED: June 26 in Afghanistan's Sayed Abad district, by an improvised explosive device

Comments (41) Add comment
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 05:36 am
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Reporter Johnny Edwards has

Reporter Johnny Edwards has the death toll in Operation Enduring Freedom (the US/NATO war in Afghanistan) wrong. There have been a total of 1895 coalition deaths in OEF including 1151 U.S. troops.

It is the U.S. war in Iraq that has cost 4411 U.S. military personnel their lives. American soldiers are still fighting and dying in Iraq although the U.S. military no longer calls it combat.

How many more blue collar types is United States willing to sacrifice in these costly, counterproductive, brutal, un-winnable wars? How many more families will have to bear the burden of American imperial hubris?

Today, July 4, 2010 Gen. David Petraeus declared "we are in this to win" despite rising casualties and growing skepticism about the nearly 9-year-old war. The AP story continues: "He said it was important to demonstrate to the Afghan people and world that al-Qaida and its extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which to launch attacks on the United States and other countries."

This is not the real reason the U.S. is fighting wars for hegemony in the Middle East and South Asia. These are proxy wars with China for access to and control over petroleum and natural gas reverses in Central Asia. There are only two ways to bring the oil and natural gas to ports - either via a pipeline through Iran or via a pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan. A deep-water port has already been built in Gwadar, Pakistan as a terminal for oil and natural gas pipelines from Central Asia.

Sgt. Holmes died fighting for oil. It is doubtful that he understood the real nature of his mission in Afghanistan.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 05:32 am
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"blue collar types"??? That's

"blue collar types"??? That's a low I never dreamed you could go to.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 05:41 am
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I offer my condolences to his

I offer my condolences to his family and my apologies for the extremely rude and inappropriate remarks made by JRHC. There is a time and a place for you to step up on your soap box, but this isn't it.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 05:47 am
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Sorry, KSL, but I don't see

Sorry, KSL, but I don't see Harvard or Yale educated types like Gen. Petraeus or think tank types like Michael O'Hanlon losing their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. It IS blue collar types who are.

I am not disparaging blue collar types. I am disparaging the white collar types that cynically send them off to war to do or die. Foot soldiers are always told they are fighting for a noble cause. Foot soldiers are always lied to by the masters of war.

The top intelligence officer in United States say there are only 50 or 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The U.S. war in Afghanistan isn't about fighting terrorism or about preventing Afghanistan (one of the poorest countries in the world) from again harboring Al Qaeda. That is easily done with stand off weapons.

The up close and personal fighting and dying is for U.S. dominance. The U.S. war on the Taliban has now become a war against Pashtuns. They take the US/NATO occupation of their lands personally and will never stop fighting against foreign occupies.

So attack me, KSL, for noting Sgt. Holmes blue collar background. Look at his resume! You are even less informed and less willing to learn than are the blue collar types who are fighting and dying in a 9 year long failed war that you continue to support.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 05:51 am
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You stupidly miss my point,

You stupidly miss my point, Cain. This is not the appropriate place for you to be making your case. But you and the others of your ilk have never cared about that, have you?

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 05:53 am
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And you also are not privy to

And you also are not privy to whether I support the continued war or not. I have not stated one way or another. So many assumptions on your part.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 06:03 am
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Yesterday, Gen. David

Yesterday, Gen. David Petraeus called for troops and civilian staff employees to work together, saying: "In this important endeavor, cooperation is not optional." Petraeus might as well have waved a red flag. Now that the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan is aligning itself with civilian aid workers, that justified attacks on aid workers in the minds of the Taliban because civilian aid workers are seen as part of the US/NATO occupation. In addition to U.S. military grunts dying, we will also see international aid workers attacked. We can expect college trained types like agronomists to be targeted by the Taliban for collaborating with foreign occupation forces.

I noted Sgt. Holmes' death back on June 30. The Chronicle chose to run this story on July 4th for purely propaganda purposes.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 06:10 am
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And you chose to speak about

And you chose to speak about it again purely for propaganda purposes. Can't you see? You are no different. You are just the same, just on the other side.

corgimom
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corgimom 07/04/10 - 06:16 am
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My deepest, most sincere

My deepest, most sincere condolences to the family of Sgt. David A. Holmes. May God comfort you and give you solace.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 06:48 am
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Sgt. Holmes died on June 26.

Sgt. Holmes died on June 26. I noted his death and the proximity of Tennille, GA (a small town in Washington County contiguous with Sandersville) on The Chronicle's "The Forum" bulletin board on June 30.

I did not bring up the subject of Sgt. Holmes' death on July 4th. The Chronicle did as a patriotic ploy. I responded by pointing out the tragedy and pointlessness of Sgt. Holmes' death.

I asked how many more patriotic, blue collar types will the American Establishment send to their deaths in pursuit of a "victory" in Afghanistan. Today Gen. Petraeus said Unites States is in the war in Afghanistan to "win". What does "win" mean? Does it mean that United States will occupy Afghanistan forever like it plans to occupy Iraq forever to guarantee "security"? This is a formula for endless war, endless killing, and an endless list of patriotic sacrifices made by American (and British) commoners like Sgt. Holmes. American elites are not fighting and dying in Afghanistan.

Isn't 9 years of war enough time and enough killing to prove that U.S. policy is not working and will not work? Changing drivers makes little difference when the wheels have come off the U.S. vehicle of war in Afghanistan.

Stupidity is continuing to repeat the same mistakes while expecting a different outcome. The surge did not succeed in Iraq except for kicking the can down the road. The surge in Afghanistan is only guaranteed to succeed in further destabilizing Pakistan while failing to pacify or stabilize Afghanistan.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 07:21 am
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Cain, go find another venue

Cain, go find another venue for your rants, please. You don't even know what you are ranting about. I know plenty of elites who have been in harms way. Your arguments are tired and old.

KSL
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KSL 07/04/10 - 07:22 am
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The main thing is that out

The main thing is that out of respect for this family, get off of this thread with you blather.

Southern_Patriot
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Southern_Patriot 07/04/10 - 07:40 am
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Don't even respond to cain he

Don't even respond to cain he lives in his own twisted world, the dude has been spewing his liberal bs for years

RIP Sgt. Holmes and thank you for your service

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 08:22 am
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There is no more appropriate

There is no more appropriate place than right here on this very day to express resentment at the futility of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many more lives are you willing to spend on this 9 year long, hopeless conflict?

Gen. Jesus Petraeus is not this country's Messiah. He does not walk on water and he does not raise the dead. He is able to order military actions that result in the deaths of more U.S. service personnel as well as more Afghan civilian death.

This piece on Sgt. Holmes' death did not run in the obituary section. It ran on the front page of The Chronicle on Independence Day.

United States illegally invaded Iraq in March 2003. It is well past time to let Iraq go and give Iraqis their independence from U.S. occupation. Apparently President Obama is doing that despite calls from U.S. war hawks to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq's government. VP Biden and a bunch of U.S. Senators are in Iraq today trying to cajole or strong arm Iraqi legislators into forming a government nearly 4 months after elections were held there.

United States is propping up a corrupt regime in Kabul, Afghanistan. Violence is now endemic throughout Afghanistan and is not limited to the Pashtuns in the south and east.

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill with another $33 billion to fund Obama's 30,000 man surge in Afghanistan. In October SecDef Gates, Gen. Petraeus, and President Obama will be back seeking even more money to fund the 10th year of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

We are again being told that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is at a "pivotal point". The only successful tactic that United States can employ is to pivot out of Afghanistan. End the war. Bring all U.S. troops home. Cut the Pentagon's budget in half or better yet mothball the Pentagon until Congress declares a war. Save money and save lives. It is too late for Sgt. Holmes. Don't let more American enlisted men become cannon fodder for IEDs.

KSL, you will NEVER tell ME what is appropriate to write or where it is appropriate to write it.

Nativeson1
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Nativeson1 07/04/10 - 08:18 am
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RIP Sgt. Holmes and thanks

RIP Sgt. Holmes and thanks for your service.

usafvet
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usafvet 07/04/10 - 08:27 am
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JRHC, you do not deserve the

JRHC, you do not deserve the freedoms that men and women in uniform have protected for the American citizen. You would better fit with dumbobama when his is on a mission putting down our country and those that serve to protect it.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 08:55 am
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Try telling David Holmes'

Try telling David Holmes' wife, their 15 year old daughter, their 10 year old son, their 10 year old daughter, and their 1 year old son how the U.S. war in Afghanistan is worth the price that Holmes paid and the price his family will continue to pay forever.

storiesihaveread
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storiesihaveread 07/04/10 - 09:03 am
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JHRC I have to agree with the

JHRC I have to agree with the others this is not the place to stand on your soap box. Please stop posting about this story there are other places on the web for your views. This is not the place.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 10:02 am
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Who will be the next Augusta

Who will be the next Augusta area denizen to die in Afghanistan or Iraq? You will cry alligator tears and thank them for their service, but you will not do anything to get them out of harm's way before they get killed in these mindless wars. The only reason that United States continues to wage wars in the Middle East and South Asia is because of false pride and fear of humiliation. These are poor reasons to send more American foot soldiers to their deaths.

storiesihaveread
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storiesihaveread 07/04/10 - 10:20 am
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That does it cain I am

That does it cain I am reporting you to the Chronicle. How can you be so cold hearted???

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 10:37 am
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I'm not "cold hearted",

I'm not "cold hearted", storiesihaveread. I'm a bleeding heart liberal. I don't want more soldiers and Afghan civilians dying in a war that cannot be won by United States military with or without Gen. David Petraeus in command with or without military-civilian cooperation. United States is losing in Afghanistan and will continue to lose in Afghanistan because it has no right to be there trying to force America's will on the Afghan people. This is as true on July 4th as it is on Christmas or any other day of the year. It was true before David Holmes died. It remains true after his death including during his funeral proceedings. May God have mercy on all of us. Endless war is not part of God's kingdom nor does it prepare the way for the coming of God's kingdom on Earth.

RAWR
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RAWR 07/04/10 - 11:39 am
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JohnRandolph if you are so

JohnRandolph if you are so concerned about the reasons behind the war why don't you write your politicians to have it stopped? I am not a soldier but if I were I would not be serving over there to fight a war over oil. I would be over there serving to help my brothers and sisters.

The platform you chose for your argument is all wrong. Disrespecting someone who died for their country. You should be ashamed of yourself.

curly123053
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curly123053 07/04/10 - 12:39 pm
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Why don't Cain go join that

Why don't Cain go join that church in Kansas that demonstrates at the funerals of our heroes. He would fit right at home there. He is so anti-American I feel that he might just be one of the many "plants" placed here in the US to stir things up internally. He needs to move if he hates America so much.

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 07/04/10 - 01:14 pm
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"Stupidity is continuing to

"Stupidity is continuing to repeat the same mistakes while expecting a different outcome." Stupidity is putting into the most important office in the world a man who had no experience at anything, no clue, a man who would "end the war"..Aside from that today we honor Sgt Holmes and all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Another warrior from Ft Stewart fell with the past couple of days. We here go on about our lives, so many selfishly only wanting their own personal desires to be met. As for the "fighting for oil", that battle could be over in a matter of months if there were reasonable people in our government who would allow us to tap our OWN resources in the ground beneath us. But again, that premise is incorrect and this is no time to belabor those issues. This is a time to offer prayer, condolences , and praise for those who are willing to leave family, home, jobs to go off to some country and make their own efforts to stem the tide of terrorism. THAT is THEIR mission whether or not those in charge allow that to be done at any cost.

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 07/04/10 - 01:18 pm
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ANY war can be won by our

ANY war can be won by our country and our troops; the problem is that civilians, many of whom who have no clue, won't allow the troops to use the necessary means to get the job done. If you read any first hand account of world war one or two, you will see events that would cause soldiers today to be tried for crimes as some already have; war is hell and we must do what it takes to win or come home with our tails between our legs. It is NOT unwinnable, but the cost to civilians there would be great.

curly123053
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curly123053 07/04/10 - 01:40 pm
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You cannot win a war in the

You cannot win a war in the halls of Congress ! You select the Commanders and let them wage the war with whatever it takes to win. it has become extremely difficult to win a war with the political interference we have seen since the Viet Nam War. The commanders are orchestrating this war with handcuffs in the number of troops they would actually need to accomplish their goals. Let the commanders in the war use what they say they need, whether it is more troops or more equipment without interference from the politicians. I bet we would see positive results and the war would not last as long too.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 07/04/10 - 03:09 pm
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I have not "disrespected"

I have not "disrespected" Sgt. David Holmes. I disrespect the leaders of this country who send foot soldiers like Holmes to far off lands to "die for their country" is futile wars of choice.

Britain has fought and lost 3 major wars in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union fought and lost in Afghanistan. What makes Americans so arrogant that they think we can win in Afghanistan which is known as "the graveyard of empires"?

The former head of the CIA's (Osama) bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, among other experts, thinks the US/NATO military mission in Afghanistan is doomed. Scheuer wrote a book titled Imperial Hubris. That title alone should tell you a lot about the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan if you understand the definitions of the words "imperial" and "hubris".

curly123053, this piece on Sgt. David Holmes is not from the obituary column. It is a front page piece in the July 4th edition of The Augusta Chronicle. That makes it subject to comment. Plus The Chronicle allows Reader Comments on this news story. The Chronicle did not ask that readers limit their comments to obligatory condolences.

Few readers of The Chronicle knew Sgt. Holmes personally or are familiar with Tennille, GA. Holmes' death is emblematic of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and could equally be characterized by the recent deaths of many U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The Chronicle chose to run this piece on July 4th as a patriotic ploy. His death would be no less a tragedy on any day of the year.

Here is a link to the report of Holmes' death that ran in The Macon Telegraph on July 1st. The Telegraph did not run a front-page story on Sgt. Holmes' death on July 4th AFAIK.

http://www.macon.com/2010/07/01/1181698/midstate-soldier-killed-in-afgha...

End the U.S. war in Afghanistan NOW and save lives!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/04/10 - 03:15 pm
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Rev. Cain wrote: I have not

Rev. Cain wrote:

I have not "disrespected" Sgt. David Holmes. I disrespect the leaders of this country who send foot soldiers like Holmes to far off lands to "die for their country" in futile wars of choice.

You cannot put the blame solely on the "leaders." Don't you remember the end of Buffy Ste. Marie's great song, Universal Soldier?

He's the universal soldier and he knows he is to blame.
His orders come from far away no more.
They come from him and you and me
And brother can't you see,
This is not the way we put an end to war.

Each individual soldier, sailor, air force, marine is equally culpable (or heroic, depending on your outlook) for acts of war. You cannot blame it solely on the leadership.

Jake
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Jake 07/04/10 - 06:07 pm
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True Little Lamb, but every

True Little Lamb, but every good soldier follows the orders of their superiors. Some orders go against your morals so what do you do then? You will do what will save your life and the life of your fellow troops. I truly feel sorry for Sgt Holmes' (a man I do not know) family. A wife without a husband, and children without a dad. A man who gave the ultimate sacrafice for a cause he voluntarily joined in. Cain raises some interesting points. One of which is why after 9 years of confilct why has not the objective been accomplished? What is the objective? It was thought that Bin Laden was in that country 9 years ago and we were going to get him and his leadership. Well he is still out there.

speeding
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speeding 07/04/10 - 06:20 pm
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What happened to this

What happened to this story??
http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2010-07-03/remains-millen-wwii-....
including 1st Lt. Robert M. Anderson of Millen, Ga.,

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