Letters to the Editor

You can’t put a price on our military

I read Ms. Peggy Burton’s letter in the Nov. 6 Whidbey News-Times and vented any comments to my wife of 54 years. She has been my partner during 38 years in the military, which included three combat tours in Vietnam where I lost about one-third of my fellow A-6 Intruder aviators, each of those three cruises. My wife and four sons spent many tough times wondering when the Navy Chaplain was going to come visit them. In had 237 bombing missions in Vietnam from 1967 through 1970. I had lots of time to reflect on people we were fighting for and how they spit on us when we would return home. I kept going back because it was the right thing to do, to fight for people like Ms. Burton so they could speak their piece.

We now have one of our four sons who has two trips in Iraq, flying the F-14 and is now a Navy Captain in charge of all the F-18 training on the West Coast. We also have another son who flew A-6’s on one of my flag ships. He contracted MS and is now, with his master’s degree in computer science, directing the software for the latest Strike Fighter, the F-35, for Naval Air Systems Command.

I had six commands, two aircraft squadrons, two ships (one an aircraft carrier), and two battle groups, and three of my shore tours were spent in the Pentagon, involved with the budget.

The above is to help explain my qualifications and the amount of emotion Ms. Burton’s letter aroused in my family and me. I additionally had two uncles in World War II, was raised on a farm in Illinois where we were taught to honor our men and women in uniform and thank the Good Lord for their sacrifices to keep us free from the great number of people around the world that would take our freedoms from us and even exterminate us if they could. We were taught that you can’t put a dollar value on what our military costs, because if they couldn’t keep us safe, all other moneys and freedoms would be irrelevant.

Ms. Burton threw around a lot of figures, most of which I would dispute. One example she used is that the military budget is half of the total 2011 taxes. I Googled this and found it was 28 percent. From WWII on, we were spending at times, more than 50 percent of our GNP for the military. Today the military budget represents less than 4 percent of GNP. If people like Ms. Burton had stated their position during World War II like she did now, I know they would have received a lot more results than a letter from a guy like me. My Grandpa Bull limped across the cornfield that laid between our farms the night they announced the Belgium Bulge which his son, my Uncle Joe, was in the middle of. I was only 6, yet it left a deep imprint and I know during that period nobody ever thought about how much the military was costing us.

I don’t know, but I bet Ms. Burton and her followers were never in the military or had anyone close to them who served because if they had they would have never put a value on what our keeper of our freedom needs. I wonder how many Boeing employee working on the F-18 assembly line would agree with Ms. Burton. Before my dad passed on I asked him what was wrong with the people like Ms. Burton and he said, “They have gone to sleep on a full stomach.”

Lyle F. Bull

Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.)

Oak Harbor

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