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A new generation of heroes surfaces
San Antonio Express-News ^ | 09/30/2004 | Austin Bay

Posted on 09/30/2004 4:44:04 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch

A new greatest generation is emerging — in Afghanistan, in Iraq and on the other, less-publicized battlegrounds of the war on terror.

Focused on the U.S. political cycle, America's media elite are missing the extraordinary story of the 19- through 35-year-olds who are winning this war. The detailed history of this new cohort of American and free world leaders — the people who will shape the 21st century — is being written by themselves, chiefly on the Internet, via e-mail or Web logs.

This is a battle-honed bunch with exceptional talent and motivation, young people with a mature balance of idealism and realism, youthful cool and professional competence. I saw this on every patrol and convoy I made this past summer in Iraq. I had the privilege of working with these "kids," inevitably chastising myself for referring to such able young adults as kids. Their comeback was always "It's OK, sir. We know colonels are old."

Sam, a U.S. Army private first class from Milwaukee, is an example of young soldiers who are both "boots and geeks" — troops who can handle digital technology and rifles.

The nonclassified laptop is on the blink. Sam taps out a half-dozen commands, and the machine functions smoothly.

Need to run the eight kilo-meters of iffy freeway between Baghdad International Airport and downtown? Sam pulls up in an SUV, his M-16 propped so he can drive and shoot. Sam goes through the pretrip procedures calmly, carefully. If we "meet trouble" and can't drive through the ambush — and Sam is very good at high-speed swerves; I'm talking NASCAR level — he'll take the best firing position available and try to suppress the attackers. Cool? He does this every day.

I know Sam has several gripes with "the system" — every real soldier earns the right to gripe. But in four months, I never saw a gripe deter this young man from doing his job right.

Then there's James. He's a captain in the Australian army (note, I said "free world leaders"). He's 27, with a law degree but, more importantly, on-the-ground experience. He has a special talent for seeing the "big picture" — strategic assessment. Every night the analytic group he organized would meet in Al Faw Palace to discuss the day's events, with particular emphasis on economic and political issues affecting Iraqi governance.

James' "chess club" consisted of lieutenants, captains, majors and a handful of young enlisted troops, with a couple of old fogies allowed to kibbutz. From the discussion, James would produce four or five concise PowerPoint slides. He usually finished his chore around 2 a.m., when he e-mailed the slides worldwide. By 9 a.m. the next morning, there's James, back in the office, with a huge cup of coffee, starting the process again.

James' "product" attracted a large readership. One day we got a complaint from headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, that "the interesting slides SACEUR likes to see" hadn't arrived by e-mail.

Australia, James said one morning, was America's most reliable military ally in the 20th century and those shared values extend into the 21st century.

As a senior officer told me the day before I left Baghdad: "You've gotten to see what I see, Austin. These young people are so smart."

"Where do they come from?" I asked.

"I don't know. Many were in the service before 9-11, but a lot of the young enlisted people, they've come in since then."

"Maybe it's the pressure, circumstances," I said. "You know, terrible challenges, the old saw of rising to the occasion?"

We both looked at each other. No doubt that is the case — but the challenges these young people meet day in and day out are dangerous and daunting.

--------------E-mail Austin Bay via

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; US: Texas; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: greatestgeneration; heroes; new; oef; oif
A new greatest generation is emerging!
1 posted on 09/30/2004 4:44:05 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch

This put a positive spin on your post.

2 posted on 09/30/2004 4:49:58 PM PDT by rocksblues (Sorry John, we remember and will never forget your treason!)
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To: rocksblues


3 posted on 09/30/2004 4:50:42 PM PDT by rocksblues (Sorry John, we remember and will never forget your treason!)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Our soldiers are terrific. I am less impressed, however, by the civilians who have been abducted. I know this sounds harsh, but where is the courage? Aside from the ONE brave Italian, every one of these people appears to have been sniveling, begging, etc. Their families are worse. If the first five hostages had told their captors to f**k off, there probably wouldn't be a sixth. I'm stunned by the lack of courage of not only the hostages (and you don't expect ALL to be heroic, but more than one) and especially the families. Call me hard-hearted.

4 posted on 09/30/2004 4:52:13 PM PDT by LS
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.  

5 posted on 09/30/2004 4:53:54 PM PDT by qam1 (McGreevy likes his butts his way, I like mine my way - so NO SMOKING BANS in New Jersey)
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To: rocksblues

Thank you!

6 posted on 09/30/2004 4:58:01 PM PDT by isthisnickcool (Only dummies play poker with George W. Bush.)
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To: rocksblues



7 posted on 09/30/2004 4:58:17 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (W WALKS THE WALK!)
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To: LS

Ah come on LS, give the civilians a break...I mean seriously. You have 10 guys with swords and grenade launchers yank you out of your car and your house in the wee must be incredibly terrifying...

I say,,,give them guns,,give the contractors and volunteers armed can't hurt!

8 posted on 09/30/2004 5:03:19 PM PDT by austinaero
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To: austinaero

Oh, I've got no problem with them protecting themselves. They should! But am I the ONLY one who thinks that there is NO courage whatsoever---from the hostages OR the families---being demonstrated here? (Again, the one Italian guy is the BIG exception.)

9 posted on 09/30/2004 5:05:26 PM PDT by LS
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To: SwinneySwitch
This is the first article I've seen that raises the subject but from what I've seen, this is the greatest generation of tough, smart, and inventive young people I've ever seen. I've had the good fortune to lead some of them and train some of them and listen to them when they've gotten home again and I'm in awe.

We got lucky with bunch of "kids"!

10 posted on 09/30/2004 5:09:57 PM PDT by USMCVet
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To: LS

Well, there may be others who think that too, I don't know...I'd be a mass of nerves,,speaking for myself, don't know how "brave" I'd appear..hoping against hope things will turn out.

You gotta give that American guy credit who actually escaped,,I can't remember his name. That was WAY cool.

I certainly don't believe in ransoms...I hope the Italians didn't pay a ransom after all. I think that sets a terrible precedent.

11 posted on 09/30/2004 5:10:00 PM PDT by austinaero
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Amen to that! These kids today are great, and I'm proud to say I trained some of them before I retired, NO, I'm prouder still to have served with them because they inspired me!!

12 posted on 09/30/2004 5:28:02 PM PDT by docman57 (Retired but still on Duty)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

This is a goodie!

13 posted on 09/30/2004 7:51:48 PM PDT by Valin (I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.)
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: JMack

Good for Hamil. We need more of him. I'm just saying, the more that there is cowardly behavior from ANYONE taken, the more that will be taken. If they see it doesn't affect them or the families, then this crap will stop.

15 posted on 10/01/2004 3:11:23 AM PDT by LS
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To: SwinneySwitch

The dark underbelly of "the greatest generation" is that the folks they have promoted out of the baby boomers are first class suckups rather than picking out leaders. Any leaders who do crop up are shot down by snid sniveling peers. It is gratifying to see that the x'ers and beyond are developing folks who can save the world, because the 60's crowd needs to retire from the world and try to save themselves before it is too late.

16 posted on 10/01/2004 4:08:26 AM PDT by AndyJackson
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

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