Vets For Freedom at the Fort Snelling Officers Club

March 26th, 2008 | by Sqotty |

“Let them win,” was how Master Gunner Tom Parks put it last night at the Fort Snelling Officer’s Club. These three simple words sum up the overall feeling of the standing-room only crowd that attended the Vets For Freedom Tour event. The reasons to win are numerous and critical; “Let them win” says it all.

The speakers at last night’s event all had direct a connection to either the military and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All, save one, had served in the military at one point in time, the main speakers having served in Iraq. Some have sons who have served, or are now serving over there. The one exception was a very special case; Shrek’s Mom, Merrilee Carlson from Families United, whose son gave his all for Liberty in 2005; she is a Gold Star Mom. I had a chance to speak with her briefly, and she is one of the nicest, and sincerest, people I have ever met

Thumbnail of group shot.

Group shot

Michael Baumann, retired Lt. Colonel, Minnesotan, Iraq veteran, and author of the just released Adjust Fire opened the event with the initial introductions, then turned the event over to Pete Hegseth, another native Minnesotan and founder of Vets For Freedom.

Hegseth served in Iraq with the 101st Air Borne. Last year he went back to Iraq for a few weeks, and he pointed out that the difference between the Iraq he fought for and the Iraq of today is night and day. A few short years ago never a day went by when there were not gunshots or explosions to be heard. Now gunfire is a rare occurrence. It still happens, as we all know, but the violence has been significantly cut, down 90% in Baghdad alone.

The main speakers were (CWO) Master Gunner Tom Parks, USMC (not sure if he is still serving or retired); Sergeant Jeremiah Workman, USMC, currently still on active duty and given permission by the Corps to participate in this tour; David Bellavia, former Army Staff Sergeant and author of House to House. All of these men are highly decorated. Their modesty prevents them for calling themselves heroes, reserving that distinction to those who died, a sentiment I can respect.

Bellavia pointed out how radicals from around the world have landed in Iraq, not to help their people, but to fight Americans. An example he gave was of two guys his unit killed; when he searched their pockets for papers, he discovered that the two were brothers, not from Iraq, but from the Philippines.

One of the VFW members on site called for a salute of these gallant men by all veterans in attendance, an honor I am grateful to be able to have participated in.

If you have an opportunity to catch the tour, DO SO! Take your children as well. It is an informative and non-politcal tour. These guys are not just heroes; they are role models for today’s youth. Check out the tour website to see their schedule.

I met sgt_h at the event, and he has a great picture of the VFF bus and the morning event on his blog. Too bad he forgot to put the memory card back in the camera!

I have some video of the event that I will post on youtube later tonight. I didn’t have a tripod, so the images are a bit shaky. What they have to say is far more important than the video quality, so I hope you will bear with me on that. Following are some pictures from the event.

Shrek’s Mom, a Gold Star Mom.

Shrek’s Mom

Congressman John Kline

Congressman John Kline

Capt. Pete Hegseth

Pete Hegseth

Capt. Pete Hegseth

Pete Hegseth

Brigadier General Kelly, Minnesota Army National Guard

Brigadier General Kelly ANG

Master Gunner Tom Parks, USMC

Master Gunner Parks

Jeremiah Workman

Jeremiah Workman

And after the formal briefing, we have a few additional shots.

General Kelly

Brigadier General Kelly ANG

Lt. Col. Mike Baumann, USA Retied, with his book, Adjust Fire

Mike Baumann

This is me with David Bellavia

Todd with David Bellavia

Jeremiah Wokman
Jeremiah Workman

Their message is clear: We need to win this war, not just for the security and safety of Americans, or for Iraqis, but because it is the RIGHT thing to do. The price of failure will far exceed the price of victory. To quote Master Gunner Parks again, “let them win.”


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  1. 4 Responses to “Vets For Freedom at the Fort Snelling Officers Club”

  2. By Sgt_H on Mar 27, 2008 | Reply

    Great post on the event. It was a lot of fun and the speakers were great.

    The message everyone needs to take from this is exactly what Master Gunner Parks said, Let them win.

  3. By Sqotty on Mar 27, 2008 | Reply

    Amen to that, ‘bro!

    Let them win!

  4. By Mike on Sep 20, 2008 | Reply

    If you study history, there are three ways to win in Iraq.
    1. Make it the 51st state
    2. Turn it over to the locals ( so far that’s a police state.)
    3. Kill everyone in the country.
    Take your pick.
    Whe I was your age I thought the same way about Viet Nam. Went twice, Killed to many, did no good. Same story, different year.

  5. By Sqotty on Sep 21, 2008 | Reply

    Choice number 2 is where things are headed. Anbar province, which a couple of years ago was a major hotbed, has been turned over to Iraqi control. I also realize that if we pull out before the job is done, Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran will seize control of Iraq.

    Not sure what you think my age is, but we’re not too far apart. I was 14 when we pulled out of Vietnam and 16 when Saigon fell to the communists.

    The problem with Vietnam is we fought a defensive war, which is a losing proposition. And the South Vietnamese paid the price for that. I had a Vietnamese refuge friend when I lived in San Diego. She got out, her husband did not. The Communists eventually executed him.

    My experience with Vietnam is strictly indirect; what was on the news and now in the books, and, of course, what those who did serve care to share.

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