Thursday, January 3, 2008

INTERVIEW WITH "A SOLDIER'S PERSPECTIVE"

Following is my interview with CJ.  He is not only one of America's bravest, he is a great Patiotic American.  He is the founder and writer of a website he began several years ago called, "A Soldier's Perspective".  A Soldiers Perspective has gained national and international attention within the blogspher and media.  Read what he has to say and you will understand why CJ is the first of many included in the category of an "Interview With An American Patriot": 

CJ, can you give a brief synopsis of your background in the U.S. Military?

I joined the military on January 18, 1995.  I was engaged to be married and nowhere near mature or financially stable enough to start a family.  I'd like to say that i joined the military to grow up, but it wasn't that easy.  My younger sister had signed paper to enlist in the Army.  A few weeks before she was to ship out to basic training, she decided she wanted to join the Marines instead.  Feeling bad about what she did to the Army recruiter, she gave him my name and told him I was interested in joining (WRONG!!).  I was a punk kid with long, dyed hair who listened to heavy metal music and worked at Taco Bell (the same job I'm going back to when I retire,  by the way). When the recruiter called, I wasn't interested and played as hard to get as I possibly could, trying to talk myself out of the invevitable.  

I joined as a private and took to the Army like a duck to water.  Having been in JROTC my senior year of high school, I had a general idea of what to expect.  I graduated basic training from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and proceeded to the Presidio of Monterey to attend the Spanish Basic Course.  I graduated and went to my Advanced Individual Training at San Angelo, Texas.  My first assignment was to the 511th Military Intelligence Company, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Irwin, CA.  My next assignment was to the 103rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Stewart, GA.  While with the 3rd ID, I deployed to Kuwait in September 2002 and was with the first unit to cross the border into Iraq at the stroke of midnight on March 20th, 2003 (actually, it was slightly earlier).  I fought my way on the front lines all the way up to Baghdad and was injured outside As Samawah, Iraq during an artillery strike.  Later, I was awarded an impact Bronze Star Medal with Valor device for repelling an ambush while dismounted.  I was with the unit that took down Baghdad during the "Thunder Runs" and also helped 3/15 Infantry pacify Fallujah. 

I'm currently stationed at Redstone Arsenal, AL as a First Sergeant – my dream job.  As long as I've been an NCO, my main focus has been on taking care of Soldiers.  As a 1SG I get to directly influence NCOs and Soldiers alike.  I've been in 13 years and look forward to the next 7-17 years until retirement.  I often joke that I'm in it until they push my wheelchairs out the door and close it behind me!!

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not or troops who have served in  OIF and OEF .  Many Americans have spoken out about no longer supporting the mission.  Do you think that the U.S. Service Members are effected by this?

I think to some degree we are, but for the most part we're focused on the mission at hand.  The problem is that while we're in Iraq, we have a very limited view of the big picture.  Often time, we only know what is happening in our sector.  We have to rely upon news reports or public affairs sources to figure out what's going on elsewhere.  That means we get the censored military version of events or the biased mainstream media version of events.  Some Soldiers are affected by that, but not many.  It is the NCOs responsibility to keep his Soldiers informed and motivated to complete their missions regardless of the political wrestling going on back home.  We know the good we're trying to do and that is what is most important.   For the most part, Soldiers know that this country is behind them and supports them regardless of their feelings about the war.  The outpouring of support by Americans from all walks of life has humbled us immensely since the war began.

The American Mainstream Media say that troops in Afghanistan and Iraq can not speak freely for fear of retribution or punishment.  I, as an American, do not agree.  In your own experience, do you think this is true?

I think each individual Soldier has a different opinion about this.  I think the less experienced Soldiers probably have this fear – and it's probably legitimate.  A few years ago, I was shown an email that was sent to the commanding general of the post I was on about my blog.  The title of the email:  "Fort Irwin Has A Blogger".  As if this were a grave threat to the national security of this great nation or Fort Irwin itself.  It was written by an Army Major out to make a name for himself.  It failed because I stood up for myself.  I've always taught my Soldiers that they have nothing to fear as long as they're doing what is right.  Again, it is our responsibility as NCOs to teach our Soldiers what is and is not acceptable (right and wrong).  Overall, I do NOT think this is true.  Soldiers have many avenues to register their complaints, opinions, and views – and they use them!!   The mainstream media doesn't knows know which end is coming and which end is going.  They've forgotten their purpose in life – to report facts!!


Your website has held one of the top spots in Miliblogs, and countless others, what is your websites goal?

Our goal is simple – to tell the Soldiers' stories.  I try to do this by having a diverse group of writers, but that is tough to accomplish.  I was blessed to have Marcus sign on and become a regular contributor.  I would love to have a representative from each branch of service writing regularly on the site, but my efforts to recruit the Air Force and Navy have been fruitless.  We just want to get out the truth about what is happening within our respective services.  So often the Soldiers story is lost between the headlines and money quotes.  We're out there and available to answer those questions that the general public may have about how the military works.  All they have to do is send an email to one of us.  Many of the posts we write are directly attributed to someone sending us an email asking for an explanation on a particular topic. 

Do you, or the contributors to your website, ever feel pressured to restrict your answers to questions folks ask?  Is there anything "off-limits"?

There is nothing off limits on the site.  However, we do have rules (which I guess could be called limits).  My three rules are simple:  do not violate OPSEC, respect everyone else and do not use profanity.  I want anyone to be able to come to the site and not get offended and I definitely don't want to get Soldiers killed or missions compromised by divulging sensitive information.  Other than that, the writers are free to write anything they'd like and the readers are free to comment however they feel moved to do so.  Like all sites that are considered "political", we have our trolls.  They're welcome as long as they abide by these rules.

 


Are you concerned about upcoming presidential elections and its effect on our troops?

Only if Hillary Clinton is elected.  The military suffered greatly under the last Clinton and I'm afraid it'll happen again.  Other than that, I'm honestly not concerned.  I could deal with a President Obama, Edwards, Romney, Paul, or anyone else.  No one should be concerned.

What would be your advice to an average American about supporting American forces in theater?

My advice is to support them frequently.  It doesn't take much to support a Soldier.  It has nothing to do with bumper stickers or magnets.  If you really want to support our troops in theater, write them a letter.  Send them a card.  Mail them a care package.  Visit a veteran's home or hospital like Walter Reed or Fisher House.  Donate to causes like Soldier's Angels, Adopt a Platoon, USO, or the local Operation Homefront.  If you're lucky enough to be near an installation with deployed troops, take time out of your day to welcome them home.  Above all, give them the benefit of the doubt when you hear vile commentary on the radio or TV.  It's not an easy job they're doing over there.  The decisions we make are not black and white.  It's that simple. 

 

 

Filed under Army, Interviews, Military, Patriotic by

Comments on INTERVIEW WITH "A SOLDIER'S PERSPECTIVE" »

[...] WITH "A SOLDIER'S PERSPECTIVE" January 3rd, 2008 Carolyn Kellogg wrote an interesting post today onHere's a quick excerptIt has nothing to do with bumper [...]

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Terri @ 7:34 am

As always, CJ says what he feels from the heart. Great interview! A Soldier's Perspective has and always will be one of my favorite milblogs.

(Pingback)

Hillary Clinton Bumper Stickers @ 1:12 pm

[...] INTERVIEW WITH "A SOLDIER'S PERSPECTIVE" [...]

[...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

Friday, January 11, 2008

DebbieKinIL @ 12:26 am

CJ's site if great. I visit it often. Good interview! Thanks for posting it.

pamelareece @ 7:54 pm

Debbie, CJ is indeed one of a kind as is his ground-breaking website. His honest far surpasses the b.s. one can read on other military websites. I consider myself blessed to have him agree to my interview and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Made with Semiologic Pro • Minimalist skin by Denis de Bernardy
Login