Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day; Dad picks up $600 tab to get Marine battle ready

Father's Day today. Read the article below for how a Father of a soldier is being gifted by this nation on Father's Day. Still 2 + years later military families are having to subsidize taxpayer's dollars to properly equip their young being sent into combat. Disposable troops, while others amass wealth at the expense of young lives.

Jun. 18, 2005 12:00 AM

John Tod of Mesa had been prepared to face Father's Day worrying about his son's pending date with the war in Iraq.

Then Uncle Sam stepped in with more disappointing developments.

Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival.

The message was that such purchases were to be made by Marines with their own money.

"He said they strongly suggested he get this equipment because when they get to Iraq they will wish they had," Tod said.

Total estimated cost: $600.

Tod said his son's call about two weeks ago from the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma was a sobering reminder that the military is not prepared to equip Pfc. Tod and fellow Marines with the best equipment.

Besides the essential flak jacket with steel "trauma" plates, the shopping list for the young Marine included a Camelbak (water pouch) special ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, a "drop pouch" to hold ammunition magazines and a load-bearing vest.

Tod, 45, is picking up the tab for a son who blew most of his savings on a new pickup truck. And dad says he is tempted to forward the bill to the Pentagon. "Or maybe I can write it off in taxes," he said with a grin.

It's not the cost that concerns him, even though the self-employed home repairman will have to dig deep for the cash.

"We're supposed to have a professional army," he said, "the best in the world. And we're not providing them with the type of gear they need to protect themselves as they do their jobs."

Marine Maj. Nat Frahy, a spokesman in Washington, said the military issues equipment, but it's possible that young Tod's commanders told him that it was perfectly OK to buy equipment that would help him on the battlefield.

Told about the Marine request, U.S. Rep. J. D. Hayworth, the Republican whose 5th District includes Mesa, said he has never heard of a service person being told to buy his own equipment.

Hayworth said he will contact the military to "find out what on earth is going on and why isn't that stuff there for them already. If it involves bottlenecks and glitches to get equipment to them then there should be a voucher system where military personnel can be reimbursed."

Tod refers to himself as a regular, middle-class, blue-collar guy who is a fairly close fit to the economic demographic of most families with sons and daughters serving in the armed forces. His son, now 19, enlisted last year after graduating from Mesa's Westwood High School.

His dad says America was better served with the military draft because today's professional army is not representative of the country's economic and cultural spectrum.

Yet Tod is proud of his youngest son's decision to serve even though dad doesn't believe American troops should be in Iraq.

In a recent interview, Tod recalled the kid who made an unassisted triple play in Little League and the boy who became his father's best fishing buddy before he went to Marine boot camp in San Diego.

"When I close my eyes I can see him looking up at me and asking, 'Pants on swimming, dad, can I, huh?' when he wanted to go for a swim," Tod said.

On Father's Day, Tod will hang out at his home in north central Mesa and hope that Jeremy, the 5-foot-5 155-pound Marine, will get time to call as he trains with about 2,800 fellow Marines in Yuma.

"I'll probably get to see him before he leaves for Iraq," Tod said. "I just hope and pray nothing happens to him."

Reach Thomason at or (602) 444-7971.

Dad picks up $600 tab to get Marine battle ready


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