Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Soldier's dad tells Bush, `This war is wrong'

The two-page letter is signed from the “proud father of a fallen soldier.”

A little more than six weeks ago, his soul a cauldron of grief and rage, Richard Landeck, 56, of Wheaton addressed and mailed it to President Bush.


And since he’s yet to receive an acknowledgment or reply, he asked me if I’d help get his message out.

“My voice, and that of many other frustrated Americans is not being heard,” he said.

It’s the least I can do, I replied.

“My son was killed in Iraq on February 2, 2007,” says the letter. “His name is Captain Kevin Landeck….

“He was killed while riding in a Humvee by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad. He has a loving mother, a loving father and loving sister. You took him away from us.”

The letter adds that Kevin Landeck (pictured here in a recent family photo), 26, a Wheaton Warrenville South High School and Purdue University graduate, had been married for 17 months and was very proud to be serving his country.

But “the message he continued to send to me was that of incompetence,” Landeck’s letter says. “Incompetence by you, (Vice President Richard) Cheney and (former defense secretary Donald) Rumsfeld. Incompetence by some of his commanders as well as the overall strategy of your decisions.

“When I asked him about what he thought about your decision to `surge’ more troops to Baghdad, he told me, `until the Iraqis pick up the ball we are going to get cut to shreds. It doesn’t matter how many troops Bush sends, nothing has been addressed to solve the problem he started,’” says Landeck’s letter (full text below) .

This is a reasonably close paraphrase of an e-mail Kevin Landeck sent to his parents on Jan. 19, a short note signed “live from the (excrement) show” that referred to the war strategy as “senseless.”

”Answer me this,” Richard Landeck’s letter demands of Bush. “How in the world can you justify invading Iraq when the problem began and continues to lie in Afghanistan? I don’t want your idiotic standard answer about keeping America safe. What did Sadaam Hussein have to do with 9/11?”

The letter says, “You have succeeded in taking down over 3,100 of our best young men, my son being one of them. Kevin told me many times we are not fighting terrorism in Iraq and they could not do their jobs as soldiers. He said they are trained to be on the offensive and to fight, but all they are doing is acting like policemen….

“He asked permission to take some of his men out at night with their night-vision glasses -- because as he said `we own the night’ -- and watch for the people who are setting roadside bombs and `take them out.’ He said, `I want them to be the ones that are scared.’ He was denied permission. Why?”

Richard Landeck and his wife Vicki have never been active in politics, they told me as I sat with them around their kitchen table Sunday night in the Stonehedge subdivision in the heart of DuPage County. He’s a sales rep. She’s a dental hygienist. Their other child, Jennifer, 23, is an actress (pictured below with her late brother) who also works part-time at the nearby golf course.

As the war in Iraq enters its 5th year, look for families like the Landecks to become the face of the anti-war movement: Archtypal middle Americans who can no longer respond with platitudinous faith in our leaders to the persistent waste –-- a word Richard Landeck does not shy from –- of the lives of our young men and women in Iraq.

Saturday, they went to nearby Bloomingdale to join in a peace rally, their first.

“This war is wrong,” says the last paragraph of Landeck’s letter to the president. “Because of your ineptness … I have lost my son, my pride and joy, my hero! (You) will never understand what the families of soldiers are going through and don’t try to tell me you do. My wife, my daughter and I cannot believe we have lost our only son and brother to a ridiculous political war.”

----

Kevin C. Landeck's guest book at Legacy.com

Here is the complete text of Richard Landeck's letter to President Bush:

Feb 4, 2007

Dear Mr. Bush:

This will be the only time I will refer to you with any type of respect.

My son was killed in Iraq on February 2, 2007. His name is Captain Kevin Landeck.

He served with the Tenth Mountain Division. He was killed while riding in a Humvee by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad. He has a loving mother, a loving father and loving sister.

You took him away from us. He celebrated his 26th birthday January 30th and was married for 17 months. He graduated from Purdue University and went through the ROTC program. That is where he met his future wife. He was proud to be a part of the military and took exceptional pride in becoming a leader of men. He accepted his role as a platoon leader with exceptional enthusiasm and was proud to serve his country.

I had many conversations with Kevin before he left to serve as well as during his deployment. The message he continued to send to me was that of incompetence. Incompetence by you, (Vice President Richard) Cheney and (former Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld. Incompetence by some of his commanders as well as the overall strategy of your decisions.

When I asked him about what he thought about your decision to “surge” more troops to Baghdad, he told me, “until the Iraqis pick up the ball, we are going to get cut to shreds. It doesn’t matter how many troops Bush sends, nothing has been addressed to solve the problem he started.”

Answer me this: How in the world can you justify invading Iraq when the problem began and continues to lie in Afghanistan? I don’t want your idiotic standard answer about keeping America safe. What did Sadaam Hussein have to do with 9/11? We all know it had to do with the first Iraq war where your father failed to take Sadaam down.

Well George, you have succeeded in taking down over 3,100 of our best young men, my son being one of them. Kevin told me many times we are not fighting terrorism in Iraq and they could not do their jobs as soldiers. He said they are trained to be on the offensive and to fight but all they are doing is acting like policemen.

Well George, you or some “genius” like you who have never fought in a war but enjoy all the perks your positions afford you are making life and death decisions. In the case of my son, you made a death decision.

Let me explain a few other points he and I discussed. He said when he and his men were riding down the road in their Humvees, roadside bombs would explode and they would hear bullets bouncing off their vehicle. He said they were scared. He thought “why should we be the ones who are scared?” He asked permission to take some of his men out at night with their night vision glasses because as he said “we own the night” and watch for the people who are setting roadside bombs and “take them out.” He said, “I want them to be the ones that are scared.” He was denied permission. Why? It made perfect sense to me and other people who I told about this.

When he was at a checkpoint he was told that if a vehicle was coming at them even at a high rate of speed he could not arbitrarily use his weapon. He had to wave his arms and, if the vehicle did not stop, he could fire a warning shot over the vehicle. If the vehicle did not stop then, he could shoot at the tires. If the vehicle did not yet stop he could take a shot at the driver. Who in their right mind made that kind of decision?

How would you like to be at a check point with a vehicle coming at you that won’t stop and go through all those motions? You will never know!

You or Cheney or Rumsfeld will never know the anguish, the worry, the sleepless nights, the waiting for the loved one who may never return. If the soldiers were able to do their jobs and the ego’s of politicians like you, your “cronies” and some commanders had their heads on straight, we would be out of this mess which we should not be involved with in the first place.

My family and I deserve and explanation directly from you……not some assistant who will likely read this and toss it. This war is wrong.

I want you to look me and my wife and daughter directly in the eye and tell me why my son died. We should not be there, but because of your ineptness and lack of correct information I have lost my son, my pride and joy, my hero!

Again, you, Cheney and Rumsfeld will never understand what the families of soldiers are going through and don’t try to tell me you do. My wife, my daughter and I cannot believe we have lost our only son and brother to a ridiculous political war that you seem to want to maintain. I hope you and Cheney and Rumsfeld and all the other people on your band wagon sleep well at night….we certainly don’t.

Richard Landeck

Proud father of a fallen soldier

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