Oregon Troops Say Support Kerry “so we can get outta this hellhole”

Chuck Sheketoff

The other night I logged into Yahoo and sent every Oregonian in my personal email address book an email about an effort to “honor Ralph by voting for Kerry.” Former House Speaker and State Senator, and all-around certified smart and energetic, Grattan Kerans is using his free time in retirement well by taking a leadership role in United Progressives for Victory. Grattan wanted my help in building an effort to convince folks who might give Nader a vote that "the best way to support Nader’s agenda this year is to oppose his candidacy for President."

One of the recipients of my email was Jeanne, a woman I worked with at legal services and with whom I have not spoken in a few years. Her response gave me chills and hope.

After asking “how's your family” she wrote:

Mine is fine with the exception that my oldest son, Josh, has been living in downtown Baghdad since February 2004. He's part of the Oregon National Guard 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry. He's lost a lot of his buddies and has turned from an outgoing funny kid into a sober person. I hope when he's home for good he'll feel better. Makes me crazy!

“Got a great pic off The Oregonian’s "Iraq blog" of him taking a nap on top of his Humvee. Also, he sent me a pic of himself and an Iraq policeman, and the policeman is holding a Kerry bumper sticker.

JoshforkerryThe story goes like this: The policeman approached Josh and wanted his picture taken with him. The policeman then pulled out a Kerry bumper sticker, held it, Josh gave the thumbs up, and the pic was taken. Would be cool to get it to Kerry so he can sign it for this solider!

One of the brightest days so far for Josh, was when they received their applications for absentee ballots. He said, "please tell everyone back home that the soldiers here ask that everyone PLEASE vote for Kerry so we can get outta this hellhole."

He emailed me today because he has been unable to call due to the recent fighting. Whenever that happens

[There's an update to this story here. Be sure to read the comments, including one from Josh. -ed.]

they lose phone privileges until the families of the dead are notified. Real big of the army, but I can understand why. I just keep holding on each day waiting for his return for good in April ‘05.

Since that email Josh’s unit was hit. The news sent shivers through me. I frantically looked for Josh’s name, hoping of course not to find it in the article. I called and emailed Jeanne. Her message on her cell number says she’s not available and invites a message, then says “Josh, if it’s you, be safe.”

“It’s Chuck, not Josh” I’m sorry to say as I begin my message, and I wonder if Jeanne has heard that he’s okay.

My next email from Jeanne gives another dose of reality and a suggestion for how I (and you) can help Josh and his friends endure:

Still haven't heard from him since his 2 buddies were killed this past Monday. Hopefully, he'll be able to call out tonight. Welcome to this mother's hell! If you're so inclined, drop him a line at [email protected]. He loves, they (the Oregon National Guard 2nd Battalion 162nd Infantry) all love, to receive emails with the latest news from home.

I remember Josh as the high school kid who took to rodeo, scaring the heck out of his mom. Still a tough kid for sure, but now it is George Bush who's scaring his mom.

I took Jeanne’s suggestion and wrote Josh. I told him I was thinking of him. And I told him to let all the troops know that a whole lot of Oregonians are working hard to elect John Kerry so he can get out of that hellhole. My next email will tell him about how exciting it was to be with a the crowd of 50 Silverton folks who came to a meeting on a Wednesday night to learn how to volunteer and help staff a field office for www.carryoregon.com in this quiet little town. I will tell him how even more people than that are fixn' to change leadership and make Oregon a better place when he returns - some of those additional folks were at a house party for Jim Gilbert learning how to help him win.

I hope others will join me and write Josh. Give Josh and his buddies reasons to believe that we will bring about desperately needed change in Oregon and the nation.

And if anyone out there thinks they have a good way to get John Kerry’s signature
on the picture of Josh and the Iraqi policeman, write to me. I’ve got a picture of Josh that needs an autograph by another war hero.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Coddling words and actions in regard to Bush are the failures of spirit that got us in his hellhole in the first place. His parents proved disability when they said nothing, did nothing, while he shot his little brothers with a b-b gun for his own mental perversity.

    Bush is not "scaring the heck out of (Josh's) mom," he is taking her life. She has less of hers by his acts. Use the true words for truth; half-speaking gains false ends. He is a liar and his lies have killed, have murdered, thousands and thousands of human beings. He is liable for charges of high crimes and he is to be tried, in the face of adversary and evidence, and is to be judged.

    There is a murderer. He lives there. Public standing can and does apprehend him for arraignment. That is the straight line in the actuality of the situation. Chuck, if there are words you can speak or actions you can take, which can advance humanity along this line against the inhumanity of this power holder's psychopathic mental derangement, and if you do not say them and you do not do them, and his hell on us brings worse to worst for such irresolution, how then can you carry solace, how then can you heal, how then can you help? And everyone else of you who read this. I believe that includes writers employed by The Oregonian. And just the same, the words written by them supporting or ignoring and not charging Bush, are the words which have killed the Oregonians sent, forced, to Bush's murdering power. Even as no words have been said in that newspaper to atone and to redeem the deaths being caused because none move to stop it.

    The crisis is now, the brink is real. Keeping silent for the short time until elections is to cause deaths, and those dead have no time.

    Bush mightily does resist by his power being brought to charges which are his responsibility. To speak and act to bring charges is to brave against the militarism and police state forces he has sent and can be expected to try to send again to suppress and deny free fair speech and the birthright of freedom. Your employment and livelihood is the least you could lose, as this power holder and his outlaws and the voted voices which sustain his partisans and him, is the enemy of living free and the state. Those police and those marshalls are also Oregonians, family, friends and neighbors, sent to silence speakers and arrest peacefully assembled protesters. They must stand for their honor and refuse his wrong order, in living's reflection that Bush ran away and refused right orders and was coddled and special-favored and given to grow to betray. Now Bush betrays our nation and betrays every citizen alive and betrays the honor among us to each other as he hides in secrets and for his own mental perversity.

    Who can talk with those who give their lives in his fraud. Who can hear those who speak his fraud. Who asks Josh to die for them to keep their corporate job and profit.

    Charge the president is a liar and betrays us.

  • Patty (unverified)

    Chuck - great post. Thanks for putting this up. What's Josh's take about what the other soldiers are thinking about the election?

  • Linda (unverified)

    Jeannie is also a dear friend of mine and we pray everyday forhis safe return. Thanks for the tribute to him and all his comrads in Iraq. I know he will appreciate all that write. We love you Josh, keep up the good work and stay safe. Lyn and Linda Combs

  • JOSHUA SCHERTENLEIB (unverified)


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