Troops deserve funding, support

Matthew White

Sam Johnson spent the anniversary of his return from hell-on-earth pleading for support and funding for our troops in harm’s way.

Johnson, a U.S. Representative from Texas, flew 62 combat missions in Korea and 25 in Vietnam, before his plane was shot down. He spent nearly seven years as a prisoner of war in Hannoi – more than half of that in solitary confinement. In all, Johnson spent 29 years in the Air Force, and commanded two air bases.

While in solitary confinement, his captors kept in him in leg stocks for 72 days. When they finally decided to remove him, Johnson could no longer walk. The next day, Johnson was put into leg irons for two-and-a-half years. He claims his body wasn’t the same after 2,500 days of captivity.

Johnson was in his “rat-infested three-by-eight, dark, filthy cell” when Washington cut the funding for Vietnam. Johnson’s captors would blare nasty recordings over the loud speakers of Americans protesting back home – tales of Americans spitting on Vietnam veterans, and worse.

“Words cannot fully describe the horrendous damage of the anti-American efforts against the war back home to the guys on the ground,” Johnson told members of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I don’t think that we should ever, ever let that happen again.”

Johnson is absolutely correct – Americans have a duty to never, ever, let that happen again. But, the reality is the Democrat-controlled house is on course to cut funding for Iraq while our young men and women are still serving in Iraq, paralleling the mistakes of Vietnam.

In an interview with, a Web site for anti-war groups, prominent Democrat Rep. Jack Murtha explained that by placing conditions on combat funds he would be able to effectively stop the troops in their tracks. “They won’t be able to continue. They won’t be able to do the deployment. They won’t have the equipment, they don’t have the training, and they won’t be able to do the work. There’s no question in my mind.”

Jack Murtha – a prominent military man – should be ashamed of leaving Americans without reinforcements, without training and without equipment while they are fighting a war. Other Democrats, too, should be ashamed; it’s despicable that they’re not. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signed onto Murtha’s “slow bleed” plan, hanging Americans out to dry in a war zone.

Sam Johnson had a message for these Democrats: “Debating non-biding resolutions aimed at earning political points only destroys morale, stymies success and emboldens the enemy. The grim reality is that this house measure is the first step toward cutting funds for the troops.”

Johnson stood up for his friends who did not make it home, and he stood up for the troops who have fought and died in Iraq already when he said, “We must not allow this congress to leave these troops like the congress left us. Today, let my body serve as a brutal reminder that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past – instead learn from them. We must not cut funding for our troops, we must stick by them, we must support them all the way. And to our troops, we must remain always faithful.”

Matt White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].