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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Iraq's first war hero

Despite differences in opinions between the authors of the Good Times Blog and some of its readers we would like to dedicate this post to the courage and bravery of the men and women of the armed forces. In my opinion these men and women exhibit that courage and bravery, courage and bravery that can be shown in so many ways. Some of the troops continue to support the war, some have come out against it, while some have challenged specific military policies. Regardless their personal stories all exhibit that when it comes to the Armed Forces you just can't find a better group of guys...and gals!

I thought I'd highlight one them. Please feel free to post any tributes/shout outs in the comments. I should say that this story personally resonates with me and that is why I chose it, not because he's a military hero and (some of) his beliefs are consistent with my "left-leaning" ideology. I respect and admire just as much those who may not agree with my politics.

Eric Alva

"Alva...was a decorated staff sergeant who had served in Somalia and Japan. As troops began to push into Iraq, on March 21, 2003, Alva was leading 11 Marines among 75 or so sailors and Marines in a 50- to 55-vehicle convoy on its way from the desert in Kuwait to Basra, Iraq. It was a logistical convoy moving through the desert at night, lights out, night-vision goggles on. The sand was so kicked up it was nearly impossible for Alva to even keep track of the vehicle in front of him. At one of three stops along the way, Alva, who hadn't eaten for a full day, was heating up an MRE when he went to get something out of his Humvee. 'I took maybe a step or two,' Alva said, 'and that is when the explosion went off.' It was a land mine."

Alva was visited at Bethesda Naval Hospital by President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Rumsfeld, and Michael Jordan.

None of them knew he was gay.

Although he kept it a secret from his commanding officers over the years, Alva says plenty of soldiers knew he was gay and it was never a problem:

"I told tons of people. A lot of my friends, my buddies, my closest Marines, people I had served in combat with. Straight guys, married, with children and everything, three of them which I have become their sons' godfather now. Everybody was just respectful and was just like ordinary. 'That's it? That's your big news?' Being on the front lines and serving with the people who even actually knew that I was gay, you know, that was never a factor. We were there to do a job. We were [there] to do a mission. I don't think people would have a hard time with it because they know that the person right next to them is going to be there to protect them, in our terms, 'have their back.'"

Alva is to be commended for his service to the country. What is to be commended of these men and women is that they do put politics aside, and when given the order will fight to the death for their country. They leave the debating and disagreeing to the rest of us (which we do so well, even here at the GTB). That said, Alva is also to be commended for challenging such a discriminatory and detrimental policy. Since this policy went into effect, 11,000 individuals have been discharged from the military. That's 11,000 people that, in retrospect we couldn't really afford to lose.



Blogger scooterlulu said...

Point of clarification: I didn't label him Iraq's first war hero. This label was given to him because he was the first injured person in the war.

Just wanted to make sure that was clear!

4:10 PM

Blogger Amanda said...

To all those who serve whose name and face we will never know.

And to all of the military families who are left behind at home. May their struggles, at least, be recognized. They too, deserve our strongest support and our deepest respect.

4:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Staff Sergeant Alva is a great American and I am proud he's one of ours! Thanks for the great post and for taking my suggestion to heart and putting it into action. Bravo.

4:32 PM


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