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Monday, June 19, 2006

Fatal Inaction

The world's most powerful military failed to provide the armor that would have saved scores of American lives. One father wouldlike to know why

Private 1st Class John Hart whispered into the phone so he wouldn't be overheard. It was just a matter of time, he said, before his buddies and he bumped down some back road in Iraq right into an ambush. They were so exposed, the somber young soldier told his dad, back home in Bedford, Mass. They were riding around in unarmored Humvees with canvas tops and gaping openings on the sides where doors should be. That seemed pretty stupid now that people were shooting at them and lobbing rockets. John, a 20-year-old gunner whose job it was to keep his head up and return fire, felt hung out in the breeze.

As John's father, Brian Hart, remembers the conversation, he listened with growing alarm, then stepped into his home office so his wife, Alma, wouldn't hear. It was October 11, 2003.

The Harts couldn't have been prouder of their only son for answering the president's call to fight the war against terror in Iraq. That very day, the Harts had accepted a contract to sell their clapboard house in historic Bedford, in part because they felt out of step with anti-war sentiments in town. Seven months earlier, on the eve of war, the congregation of First Parish Unitarian Church had unfurled a big blue banner emblazoned: "Speak Out For Peace." The Harts were offended. The banner loomed over the town common, hallowed ground where Bedford minutemen had gathered before the first battles of the Revolutionary War in nearby Lexington and Concord. The normally soft-spoken Brian Hart told town selectmen that if the banner didn't come down, he'd sue the town. The day the war began, the Unitarians rolled up their peace banner voluntarily. Still, the skirmish left the Harts feeling so out of sorts with Bedford, their home of 14 years, that they planned to move away.

Now, talking on the phone with his young warrior, Brian tried to understand what he was hearing. Don't believe spinmeisters on TV, Brian recalls his son saying; the Iraqi insurgency is real and building. John and his buddies in Charlie Company of the 508th Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade were patrolling ever longer distances in thin-skinned Humvees suited for hauling cargo, not for carrying soldiers under fire.
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read the rest here...

Fatal Inaction

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