Saturday, October 11, 2003

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.
And all the letters are the same.

A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.

The Olympian received two identical letters signed by different hometown soldiers: Spc. Joshua Ackler and Spc. Alex Marois, who is now a sergeant. The paper declined to run either because of a policy not to publish form letters...

It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers...

Sgt. Todd Oliver, a spokesman for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which counts the 503rd as one of its units, said he was told a soldier wrote the letter, but he didn't know who. He said the brigade's public affairs unit was not involved.

"When he asked other soldiers in his unit to sign it, they did," Oliver explained in an e-mail response to a GNS inquiry. "Someone, somewhere along the way, took it upon themselves to mail it to the various editors of newspapers across the country."

However, given the nearly uniform response by soldiers to the negative media coverage of their efforts in Iraq, it doesn't surprise me if a soldier tries to battle that by such means.

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