Social and Political Commentary

All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect opinions of others or the organization as a whole.

Soldier volunteers
 for tour in

by Irving Smolens

The remarkable photos were sent to me by a close friend, William Babcock, who is a full colonel in the Rhode Island National Guard. When I last saw him we were at table for the closing banquet of our New England Chapter of the Fourth Infantry Division Association Fall Reunion.

It was then that he announced that he had just volunteered for a six month tour of duty in Afghanistan to help train the new Afghan Army. When I asked him why, he responded that he felt that he was equipped to contribute and wanted to do that. When I asked him why not Iraq his response was, "I was never in favor of the war in Iraq."

That was music to my ears. I had felt exactly that way. Bill is a graduate of the Army War College which is the highest rated US Army school for high ranking officers. What he had learned from his instructors there was that Saddam represented no danger to the US and that our Army should never occupy a country where we are not wanted.

Shortly after telling us that he had volunteered he told us that he had told Judy, his wife, that if he ever volunteered for hazardous duty that she was to smack him across the face. I then asked Judy if she had used her fist or the palm of her hand.

Bill had been a lieutenant and an infantry patrol leader in Vietnam. There are few if any more dangerous positions in any armed force. Bill left the service for about 15 years before volunteering for the National Guard. Because of his outstanding leadership qualities and great competence he rose to his current rank. He is now 57 years old and in superb physical condition (he runs three to eight miles daily) and is training his troops well.

Bill evidently has at least one close friend and probably more who are serving in Iraq. One of those friends E-mailed him the photos of Saddam Hussein's capture. Either that same friend or another friend sent him a picture of a statue that was created from the melted bronze of two former statues of the Iraq dictator. The artist who created the new monument is the same artist who had been forced to create the statues of Saddam Hussein. The monument he created was a work of love and is now at Fourth infantry Division Headquarters in Fort Hood where it will be positioned near our Wall and Walk of Honor.

Included in this essay is a picture of Major General Raymond Odierno, the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division and task force Iron Horse, as he briefs reporters after Saddam's capture. Also a picture of Bill Babcock and Senator Clinton when she visited Afghanistan last November and a picture of the new monument.

March 5, 2004

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