Would you allow a combat Veteran to be called a “Whack job”?

Americans:

Today, on national TV, the chief strategist of one of the political parties, a person who has spent his entire working life as a lobbyist in DC, specifically named the veteran in the picture below, and dismissively called him a “Whack Job”.

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The journalists present received this as a perfectly acceptable way to speak about a distinguished veteran. There is a disturbing trend for people in politics and media, who have often gone to great lengths to avoid personal service, to not be held accountable for making repugnant comments about the service of our Veterans. Our nation has spent the last 15 years generating an entirely new generation of combat Veterans. Out of gratitude for their service, and concern for the potential human difficulties they may find , we cannot allow it to be socially acceptable to demean or disrespect these men and women.

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Jim Webb in Vietnam. (Photo: Webb2016.com)

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The man pictured above was awarded the nations second highest award for Valor, the Navy Cross in Vietnam. He was also awarded the Silver Star, two bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He went on to work with both Republican and Democratic administrations. His father flew both B-17s and B-29s in WWII.  Members of his family have been in every American conflict back through the Civil War. His son served as an infantryman in Iraq. Before dismissing him as a militarist, understand that he wrote the following in a Washington Post editorial, seven months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003:

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“Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. … In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.”

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I do not have to agree with the things this man thinks, writes or stands for. My respect for his experiences is not conditional on his perspectives. I do not have to agree with people to recognize that the should be accorded being respectfully addressed. I do not have to agree with this man’s views to have a thousand times more respect for him than the scum political lobbyist who intentionally called him a “Whack -job” or the media personality posing as a journalist who allowed him to say it.

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Corvair College #9 was held in our Edgewater Florida hangar on November 11th 2005, which was Veterans Day. Present was Sam Sayer, a B-17 co-pilot who was shot down on his first mission by an 88mm flack shell that past vertically through the throttle quadrant without detonating. After 61 years you could still see all the scars on the left side of his face and arms.

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He shared the story with others at the table, making sure that all understood that he saw himself as very fortunate.  Afterwards, a particularly insensitive idiot gave a dissertation on why he drove German cars and how ‘superior’ German mechanical products have always been, specifically their weapons in WWII.  I took the guy outside and told him he had 60 seconds to develop and deliver a genuine apology for his insensitivity. Instead he said he had the ‘right’ to say what he wanted. I simply said, yes, but not in my hangar and not on Veterans day, and I told him to pack up and get out.  In 34 Colleges, with hundreds of builders, I have only thrown 3 people out. This was the first one. I wasn’t going to allow an 82 year old combat veteran, a guest in my hangar, to be verbally set upon in my presence.

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This isn’t a statement about politics, conflict, nor military service. Those don’t even come into play here. Our country has an alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans, and you don’t have to be a social scientist to understand that when journalists and political lobbyists can speak disrespectfully of Veterans without anyone speaking up or objecting, recent veterans working through a difficult transition come to the conclusion that most of their fellow citizens simply do not care about their experiences. As a Nation of good people, we can not allow this.

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Our popular ‘culture’ is obsessed with celebrities and material wealth, and consumerism tells you to worship them as gods. I didn’t point out which party’s operative made the remark, because I think either of them would do it. I didn’t point out the veteran’s name, because the story isn’t about him, it is about you, and asking yourself what is acceptable to you, what kind of country you wish to live in.

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-ww.

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8 Replies to “Would you allow a combat Veteran to be called a “Whack job”?”

  1. I admire you William that you defended our Greatest Generation a combat veteran that survived WW two to be able to tell his story. There are not many left and they above all should be honored and ridiculed. Bob Sceppa

  2. Those minds hurt my ears too and I am grateful for the sweat I give to finish my plane.

  3. There are plenty of combat veterans who are whack jobs. But Jim Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy, isn’t one of them. I wish to continue to live in a country where politicians can say any damn fool thing they want, and be judged for it.

    1. David,
      Point taken, and I didn’t mean to imply that the experience guaranteed the person some type of pass for critical review of their actions, only to say that I was in favor of hearing people out as individuals, and not having political operatives nor journals send some type of signal that it was acceptable to discredit people as a group. I wasn’t so concerned so much about Webb as I am about 22 year olds returning to a society that doesn’t have a good attention span nor a developed sense of empathy. -ww.

  4. It’s always sad to hear bad things about our Vet’s, especially from a person who never served!

  5. We travel frequently to Kansas, and were there this past weekend rooting for KSU against TCU. It brings a tear to my eye every game when we sing the National Anthem. KSU has more than 300 students in their band, and they play loud. Yet 50,000 fans were all singing the anthem, and they sang louder than the band. And, no one was looking at the words on the jumbotron – they were looking at the flag.

    We were in an IHOP for breakfast and saw some soldiers sitting at a table eating their meal. I got up, went to the cashier, and mentioned that I’d like to pay for their breakfast. I was told, “Sorry, Sir, someone beat you to it!”.

    Midwest values still mean something.

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