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September 22, 2007
Tales from the NRA convention (updated)
The National Rifle Association conference yesterday in Washington, D.C. drew lots of media attention because of the high powered presidential candidates invited to speak. McCain got in a line on a protester, Thompson got in a line on Bill Clinton, and Rudy tried to make peace with his previous anti gun positions; stories for which Drudge has linked to on his site. But to my complete shock, the best speaker of the evening was not Fred, nor Newt nor Mike Huckabee all of which I enjoyed immensely.
But the best speaker of the day was not a politician, lobbyist, nor even an NRA official. The best speaker, hands down, was a young army NCO. Everyone I asked agreed with that assessment. I can't express in words how amazingly his speech, his story, his utter love for this country moved me.
When he took the stage and began speaking unassuming, haltingly, somewhat softly spoken, I was concerned. I thought at the time as I later told him "I was feeling sorry for you speaking amongst such polished, intelligent speakers." However, I quickly followed up with "you kicked their asses!"
This young NCO, a man I won't identify by name to a wide audience until I get his permission, [editor's note: our hero's name is Sgt. 1st Class Greg Stube, and you can read more about him here. Our thanks to Lucianne.com for pointing us to this article.] told of his massive injuries while fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trying to relay his story here seems futile. I can't match in print the emotion of the man nor the way I felt about him even were I a better writer. I don't think anyone could. But I will try and tell you a little about what he went through.
Update: C-SPAN has posted video of the speech. Go to 7:45 on the Real Player version for Sgt. Stube's speech.
He talked of his 19 years in the Army, how he had seen friends die in combat, and then one day it was his turn. He and a few other Special Forces operators were pinned down in a four day battle against "a thousand Taliban" in Afghanistan. Unlike the typical Taliban hit and run tactic they massed and no one had been prepared for such a battle. He and his men held their position against an overwhelming force requiring Air Force ammunition drops several times when they were reduced to "40 rounds" between them.
As they maneuvered their vehicle (I believe he said he was on the gun in the turret) they got blown up. He described the sensation of heat, not just on his skin but in him. He struggled to pull himself from the vehicle. He looked down and saw his leg hanging by mere flesh, the bone splintered out into the sand. He got out, couldn't breathe and then felt a pop which eased his airway constriction. That pop was his abdominal lining bursting. He watched as his intestines began to leak from the stomach wounds.
Others came to his aid and they beat out the flames on his body. Disoriented, he began fighting the man who was hitting him. As they hovered over him to administer aid he felt the sting of what he thought was biting insects but soon realized was actually sand spitting up from the bullets hitting all around them. He said he "owed those men a debt he can never repay". I thought, no sir, it is us who owe them that debt. It is us who can never repay them for bringing you home to tell your story.
The sergeant said his plan if he got hit in combat was "to die". It never occurred to him he might live. He went from a Special Forces soldier to "a man who could not wipe his own butt" he said, apologizing for the graphic detail. No apology was needed of course.
He talked about his recovery, the year he spent in the hospital, only recently getting out. He said that what sustained him was his faith in God, his incredible wife, the amazing military medical professionals who rebuilt him, and something that surprised me, the wonderful assistance of the NRA and corporate partners that took a personal involvement in his recovery.
I do not intend this as a commercial for the NRA. But having just joined myself, this type of activity was unknown to me until today. I want to thank the NRA and the corporate partners who aided him. One representative from a corporate sponsor with whom I spoke about the NCO was choking a bit on his emotion which allayed my skeptical nature.
The young NCO didn't talk about politics, the war on terror, the war protesters, although he berated the Move On "Betray us" ad. He just said, or rather asked, paraphrasing: that the next time a soldier, someone who has on the ground knowledge, who has sacrificed for our freedom, please listen to what they have to say.
I doubt his message will breach the tin ears of the antiwar left. But his courage, his love of his family, country and freedom pushes me to write. I ask the antiwar left, and I urge others to ask, listen to the soldiers.
Right now, the overwhelming majority of them find value in their mission to fight terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. I agree. If I ever get the sense from them, the genuine belief that they don't support the mission I will be the first to stand up and say bring them home immediately. Until then can you on the left stop "supporting them" by insisting you know more than they do about the work they are doing?
If they tell us they are fighting al Qaeda can the MSM please stop writing articles about how they are not really fighting al Qaeda? Can Michael Ware please refrain from making hyperventilating statements like "the streets were rivers of blood" as he did a few days ago on CNN? Can you at the New York Times and Time magazine just take a few moments to rethink the de-legitimization of our brave soldiers strategy your are employing when you call them uneducated, unemployable, untrained, too afraid to speak up against the president "cooking the book" stooges of George Bush?
I am not asking you to love the war. I am asking you to listen to a man who watched his guts leak from his body to protect that freedom of the press you use to attempt to dishonor him.
Just listen to him.