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It was bound to happen sooner or later. You watch the guys around you getting shot to bits, 1,100 dead and 8,000 maimed, and you start to ask yourself, "What for?" You see the misery you're bringing down on people you thought you were going to help.

What for?

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Local History

Last Wednesday, in Iraq, an entire platoon of Army Reservists, members of the 343rd Quartermaster Co. based in Rock Hill, S.C., mutinied. They refused an order to proceed to the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, with a supply of fuel.

Prior to being called up, Sgt. Larry O. McCook was a deputy at the Hinds County Detention Center in South Carolina. It's probably safe to assume he's no shrinking violet. He called his wife, Patricia, following his arrest and told her he and his 16 comrades balked at being sent on a suicide mission, through some of the most dangerous territory in Iraq, without the normal escort of helicopters and Humvees, and in vehicles considered "deadlined" -- unsafe to operate -- by the military.

The platoon's 14 men and three women are now under arrest and face charges of willfully disobeying orders, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and five years in a federal penitentiary.

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has called for a congressional inquiry into the soldiers' plight. Some members of the outfit were from Mississippi, and family members contacted him. "President Bush takes the position that the troops are well-armed, but if this situation is true, it calls into question how honest he has been with the country," Thompson said. "I have had similar complaints from military families about vehicles that weren't armor-plated or bullet-proof vests that were outdated. It concerns me because we made over $150 billion in funds available to equip our forces in Iraq."

You have to go back to the Civil War to find an example of an entire unit refusing a direct order in the face of the enemy. Not even in the miserable failure of Vietnam did such a thing occur.

But last week it did occur, and all you brave souls who champion the war in Iraq now have a unique opportunity. The 343rd Quartermaster Co. is now short 17 people. If you're too old to volunteer yourself, why not send one of your kids?

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Oct. 19 2004