Recently in Human Rights Category
In the midst of all the ridiculous, trumped-up outrage and rhetoric, there are true heroes out there, doing what it takes.
Here's one - Anuradha Koirala of Nepal
What a waste. The Air Force is tossing out their 25 million dollar aviator, Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach. Via Huffington Post:
Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach, a fighter weapons systems officer, has been flying the F-15E Strike Eagle since 1998. He has flown numerous missions against Taliban and al-Qaida targets, including the longest combat mission in his squadron's history. On that infamous September 11, 2001, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach was handpicked to fly sorties above the nation's capital. Later he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has received at least 30 awards and decorations including nine air medals, one of them for heroism, as well as campaign medals for Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is now a flight instructor in Idaho, where he has passed on his skills to more than 300 future Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force weapons systems officers.
Since 1987, when Fehrenbach entered Notre Dame on a full Air Force ROTC scholarship, the government has invested twenty-five million dollars in training and equipping him to serve his country, which he has done with what anyone would agree was great distinction. He comes from a military family. His father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, his mother an Air Force nurse and captain. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach has honored that tradition.
And the Air Force is about to discharge this guy, a virtual poster boy for Air Force recruiting, because he is gay? Someone has to be kidding. This is sheer madness.
Lt. Col Fehrenbach was eloquent on his own behalf on the Rachel Maddow Show:
This follows the Army National Guard booting out a West Point graduate, Arabic linguist and Iraqi war veteran, 1st Lieutenant Dan Choi because he was willing to publicly state that he was gay. Rachel interviewed him after that appearance. Choi's report of how his subordinates, peers and superior officers reacted is a strong indication that DADT has way outlived its usefulness.
MADDOW: In terms of the good order and discipline allegation, what has been the reaction that you got from your fellow troops, from your unit after you told them that you are gay? Was there upset, was there discord? Were there any negative consequences to your ability to function as a group?
CHOI: Two weeks after I appeared on the show, we had National Guard training. Basically, we went to marksmanship qualification. We shot our rifles. And I was leading some of the training as officer in charge, telling them to cease fire or fire, and I thought, for four days, nobody was saying anything, so maybe they don't watch TV or maybe they don't read the "Army Times." But at the end of the training, so many people came up to me, my peers, my subordinates, people that outranked me, folks that have been in the Army -- and this is an infantry unit, infantry men that -- coming up to me and saying, hey, sir, hey, Lieutenant Choi, we know, and we don't care. What we care about is that you can contribute to the team. And what leaders do, they look to see how can they make the best team before they go to war.
There are retired Brigadier Generals and Admirals who came out as gay in 2003 and made the point that DADT is not only pointless, it's harmful to the US Armed Forces and its military readiness. They were joined by other senior retired officers and former Pentagon officials.
The three officers also joined 13 other retired senior military leaders in issuing a statement condemning the military's gay ban.
'There is one inescapable conclusion-- 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' does not work and should be repealed,' they said in a statement to SLDN. The statement goes on to say that, 'Today, no credible evidence exists to support a continued ban. Indeed, all studies, including those commissioned by the Pentagon, have come to that conclusion.'
There are many more stories, letters to the editor, articles and blog posts attesting to the fact that DADT is wrong, hurtful and way past its expiration date. Col. Daniel Tepfer's (Ret.) op-ed in the Dayton Daily News is one of them. But I think the most eloquent one I've seen recently is this comment on Steve Benen's post about Lt. Col. Fehrenbach. One of Fehrenbach's fellow airmen took the time to post this comment and I think it says it all.
I am a 26-year active duty senior master sergeant stationed in the National Capitol Region...additionally I am an unwavering Christian conservative (not the crazy type).
Lt Col Fehrenbach was my supervisor while I was stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station and I must say he was one of the best supervisors I have ever known. Obviously, I am not aware of all the facts concerning this situation. However, on a professional and personal level, Lt Col Fehrenbach is an honorable and highly effective Air Force leader. I know based on my extensive experience in the Air Force, he was on the right track to get promoted to Colonel. His service to our country should never be overlooked and soiled because of who he loves or what he does outside of duty.
I support Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach 100% and will pray that our institution will make the right decision to allow him to continue to serve with honor and dignity.
"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone."
Posted by: Ray Verret on May 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM
President Obama, listen to Senior Master Sergeant Ray Verret. As commander in chief you can change this now. Put out a stop-loss order for men like Fehrenbach and Choi.
To our leaders in Congress and in the Pentagon, do the right thing. Don't stall. Don't waffle. Don't hedge. Don't calculate for maximum political advantage. You're hurting our military and its ability to perform its duties by denying it access to individuals who are superbly qualified and have proved their abilities in distinguished services which has been recognized by numerous awards. Go read Colonel Tepfer's letter and think about the human side of the equation for the many thousands of service men and women and their partners, family and friends who are forced to deny basic truths about their existence in order to serve our country.
It's time to act.