On Wednesday, the NYTimes published a 4,625-word opus on the “2,000 dead” milestone–a “grim mark,” read the headline–on page A2. Among those profiled were Marines from the First Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, including Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr. Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ passage about Cpl. Starr:
Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents’ home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.
But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.
Sifting through Corporal Starr’s laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine’s girlfriend. ”I kind of predicted this,” Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ”A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances.”
Last night, I received a letter from Corporal Starr’s uncle, Timothy Lickness. He wanted you to know the rest of the story–and the parts of Corporal Starr’s letter that the Times failed to include:
Yesterday’s New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.
Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey’s story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: “If we (Americans) don’t do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can.”
Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.
He wrote: “Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances. I don’t regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”
What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what’s going on. It would honor Jeffrey’s memory if you would publish the rest of his story.
Mr. Lickness also told me: “Even more than a Marine, Jeff was a man of God. At a recent memorial service at Camp Pendleton for the 16 Marines from his unit killed in Iraq we got to meet the men who were with him when he died. They told us of his bravery under fire, his leadership, his humor and his humanity. America lost the best it has, but the family knows he’s with his Heavenly Father and we will see him again.”
Now you know what the Times left out. Now you know the rest of Corporal Starr’s story.
You can pay proper tribute to Corporal Starr here.
More about Corporal Starr from his uncle here.
Thank God for men like him.
As for the Times, what do I always say? It’s always more informative for what it leaves out than for what it puts in.
Update: See Tim Blair for an excellent letter to the NYTimes ombudsman about this sin of omission.
Not that he’s likely to do anything about it, but if you’d like to give your two cents to the Times ombudsman, Byron Calame, contact him here.
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