Lieutenant Colonel David Ward ’73 wrote a retrospective on his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom (5/9/03):
I wanted to thank everyone at IUP for your support and assistance. I am finally going home after being here ten months.
When I arrived here in August of 2002 there were less than 6,000 soldiers in Kuwait. I watched the buildup and the indoctrination for war.
After being in the Army nearly twenty years you never get use to seeing the faces of kids who remind you of your twelve-year-old son or daughter back home. And as more and more them came and matters began to take on seriousness, I thought of my younger days and the indoctrination I had to go through as a young soldier.
"This Group is the Third Army (Patton's Own) Staff Judge Advocate Section. Third Army ran the CFLCC (Coalition Forces Land Component Command) and was the primary group for both Operation Enduring Freedom and now Iraqi Freedom."
— LTC David Ward (standing fourth from right)
It mattered little whether the cause was love of country, duty, war, or adventure; these kids were here and they would eventually be driven forward.
It mattered little who had seen action before or who was better trained, because in war everybody is equal to die on the battlefield. They are fed, trained, and counseled before. A lot got their first will or power of attorney to be given to their girl friends, wives, or parents, not really knowing what incapacity and death meant.
Some are married, some have never even had a girlfriend. Some getting “dear johns” from their girls or wives and having to be consoled. The end result is the same, however; to suck it up and move forward with the mission.
Some kids pray before each meal at chow and a lot don't. Some kids go to church and others don't. Chaplains of all faiths turn their sermons to support the war. At one service, a chaplain compared the troops riding into Baghdad with Jesus entering the city on a donkey. Far stretch. No matter how many or few of their bodies come back in the aftermath it always hits you.
When you are told or see the conditions of some who did not die right away you wonder what this boy or girl thought about as these horrible things happened to them. War is always ugly and there are always those who get pleasure out of making it more ugly. The smiling young faces of kids joking around would be replaced with stares into space and thoughts of going home.
Some who looked forward to the game like cowboys and Indians or playing soldier would come back with the haunting reality that not everybody goes home.
Still others would go through sirens and hear missiles fly overhead, roaring and thundering through your body. You never forget laying there masked and feeling your heart pound and hearing each breath while all this is going on.
When all is said and done, what is remarkable is the will of each of those kids to go forward. Regardless of personal feelings on the war, or whether the folks back home believe the cause is just, they do their duty and go willingly into battle. They come back changed both good and bad.
Some want to stay in and others cannot wait to get out. Some will have joyous reunions and others will return to empty homes and broken marriages and families. There are always costs in war, no matter which side you are on.
History will have to judge this war as my lone opinion matters little.
Will it ride on the discovery of WMD? I don't know. A lot of nice people died here and sometimes years down the road any justification that we use never seems enough.
LTC David H. Ward
Chief, Administrative Law
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