Stearns' role, or lack thereof, in arming soldiers

Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 10:39 p.m.

My guest column of Dec. 20 mentioned a soldier in the 351st Military Police Company in Iraq who asked Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean to send bulletproof vests to improve Humvee safety.

James S. Zimmerman (Dec. 27) responded, saying that Stearns criticized Dean for using the soldier's name, but that Stearns asked the Army to expedite the vest delivery.

That's not the whole picture. I omitted details, because attacking

Stearns was not my goal. Zimmerman's response compels me to provide details from Ocala Star-Banner articles.

As my piece stated, Stearns asked the Army to expedite vest delivery, but not initially. Rosa Erker Ventura, president of the 351st Family Support Group, told The Star-Banner, "We could never understand why he wasn't supporting us on that."

Stearns also downplayed the 351st company's need for equipment, stating that Dean "misrepresented" the situation and that the 351st company was "properly equipped" with up-armored Humvees. The soldier asking for bulletproof vests disagreed.

Perhaps Rep. Corrine Brown did err when saying that the $87 billion war appropriation omitted Humvee armor. If so, Zimmerman should share his sources with Brown and The Star-Banner.

It's a good point, but unrealistic of Zimmerman to say that congressmen should have read the entire war-appropriations bill before voting on it. Congressmen rarely do that, because bills are voluminous and subject to constant amending. That's why riders are problematic, but that's another story.

Deborah Cupples,


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