November 17, 2004
"The CO is dead," he rasped, "and I'll tell you why. They were just a gaggle walking into some house. They weren't clearing the building properly before going in. We were doing that, and that's why we're living. Do not let your guard down here, or you'll be the next one dead."
I can only speak as a military wife, since I've never been a soldier. My comments may not reflect the military take on things. But I don't think what SSG Fitts said was a reflection of respect or loyalty.
I know that statements like these are made about the out-group: one company might pump themselves up by saying they're better/smarter/more hooah than another company, or platoon to platoon or battalion to battalion. However, I think it comes across as extremely crass when it's done within the in-group, especially right after a death and in front of a reporter! I don't know what tone of voice SSG Fitts used, but it doesn't sound to me like he's trying to scare the men into be safe; it sounds like he's boasting that he was smarter than the CO and that's why he's still alive. It sounds awful, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, I hear awful statements quite frequently. In my job, I work with only enlisted soldiers, and after a year, the comments about officers have started to wear me down. According to many NCOs, officers are unnecessary and worthless. Once when some of my students found out that my husband is an officer, they said, "At least please tell us that he's prior enlisted!" The look of disgust on these NCO faces when they learned he was ROTC was obvious. "I hate lieutenants," one of them said. Gee, thanks. Right before 1ID deployed, the 1SG stood up in front of our FRG and said, "The CO cares about the mission; I care about the men." Nice statement, thanks. Officers are apparently promotion-hungry morons who should just sit in the rear and let the real men take care of the company. Statements like this get made all the time, so when SSG Fitts paints the CO as a lollygagger who got his dumb ass shot, it makes me mad.
But I read this article as a wife. Maybe soldiers don't pay as much attention to these remarks -- though I don't see how constant griping about how dumb the LTs are wouldn't have an effect on unit cohesion -- and maybe I'm just being over-sensitive. But wives read these articles. Mrs. Sims is printing and saving everything written about her husband to make a scrapbook so that someday her son can learn about his father. Do you think she wants that nasty comment by SSG Fitts in her memories? Look, son, this "combat-hardened NCO" says that your daddy was a screw-up. We family members don't want to read that; shame on SSG Fitts for saying it and shame on the reporter for printing it.
Imagine your spouse gets killed in a car accident. Then imagine that the newspaper writes an article about the accident and interviews a witness who says, "If the driver hadn't been swerving around like a madman and had been more responsible, he/she might still be alive today!" How would that make you feel, to read that about your own spouse? Now imagine the witness was a close friend, someone who should show respect and loyalty. That's how I as a spouse read that article. CPT Sims and SSG Fitts worked together. From everything I've heard, CPT Sims was one of the most respected COs on this post. I think SSG Fitts should've shown more tact and respect in the moments after CPT Sims was killed.
My two cents: take it for what it's worth.
Posted by: S at November 17, 2004 06:39 PM (swRUK)
Posted by: Sarah at November 18, 2004 01:54 AM (bdu13)
Posted by: S at November 18, 2004 03:35 PM (swRUK)
Posted by: Vonn at November 19, 2004 10:09 AM (FmIVz)
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