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View Full Version : 1 of 3 sisters killed in Iraq. Should the other 2 return?



Lunatock
13 Apr 04,, 16:22
Here (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0%2C13319%2CFL_home_041204%2C00.html) is the article.


Lori Witmer, in white, hugs daughters Rachel, Charity and Michelle (left to right) in December as husband John stands behind. Michelle was killed in Iraq April 9.
http://cdn.news.aol.com/aolnews_photos/09/04/20040412113909990006



One Daughter Lost in Iraq, Parents Fear Losing Another
By JAMES A. CARLSON, AP



NEW BERLIN, Wis. (April 12) -- With three daughters serving in Iraq, John and Lori Witmer had a family Web site with photos from Baghdad, notes to home and messages of encouragement.

''Keep praying! They're almost home!'' a recent entry says.

But the top notice, dated Sunday, carried grim news: ''We regret to inform you that Michelle Witmer was killed in action April 9th ....''

The 20-year-old private died when her Humvee was ambushed in Baghdad, making her the first woman in the Wisconsin National Guard to die in combat.

Her family is asking the military to stop her sisters from being sent back to Iraq after this week's funeral.

''I can't live another year like I've lived this one,'' John Witmer told The Associated Press. ''The sacrifice that this family's made can never be understood by someone who hasn't gone through it... It's a burden I can't bear. My family can't bear it.''

The sisters arrived home Monday morning, two days before Michelle's funeral, and indicated they would need a week to mull over their options, he said. ''In the end, it is going to be my girls' decision.''

Michelle's 24-year-old sister, Rachel, served in the same unit, the 32nd Military Police Company, which was expected to leave Iraq shortly but just had its duty extended 120 days.

Charity Witmer, Michelle's twin, was sent to Iraq late last year as a medic with Company B of the Wisconsin Guard's 118th Medical Battalion. The Witmers also have two sons.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Curry said Defense Department policy states that if a soldier dies while serving in a hostile area, other soldiers of the same family are exempt from serving in a hostile area if they request. The request must come from the soldiers themselves.

John Witmer acknowledged the final decision of whether to return will be up to his daughters. But he said they would have to understand ''how terribly we need to know they're not going back.''


Witmer said he worried about his daughters joining the military but felt at the time that duty with the National Guard would be relatively safe, especially with a military police unit.

''My daughters wanted the freedom of being able to call their shots with their education,'' he said. ''They were using that to go to school.''

Asked on NBC's ''Today'' whether U.S. actions in Iraq were justified, Witmer said it was a difficult issue to sort out, but he recalled daughter Michelle's comments.

''She felt that she had made a difference in that culture and that there was a liberation that went on,'' he said. ''She was also very concerned that if we had a knee-jerk reaction to some of these horrible things that were happening, that thousands of Iraqi people would suffer from a swift exit.''

Jan Pretzel, the sisters' grandmother, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that by February, Michelle had an inkling her unit might soon ship out of Iraq because members were told to tell their families to stop shipping packages.

''This is a REALLY GOOD SIGN!!'' she wrote in an e-mail. ''The redeployment process (though it may be long) is finally beginning! There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel!''


04/12/04 18:17 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Confed999
17 Apr 04,, 04:10
Originally posted by Lunatock
he recalled daughter Michelle's comments.

''She felt that she had made a difference in that culture and that there was a liberation that went on,'' he said. ''She was also very concerned that if we had a knee-jerk reaction to some of these horrible things that were happening, that thousands of Iraqi people would suffer from a swift exit.''
And that Rooney guy says there are no heroes. God's speed Michelle. My prayers for her family and friends, and I would feel no less for the others if they request to stay home.

Confed999
28 Apr 04,, 05:00
Soldier sisters won't return to combat

Rachel, Charity Witmer will serve in other roles



(CNN) -- Two female soldiers have decided not to return to combat in Iraq after their sister was killed in Baghdad this month, a spokeswoman for the family said Tuesday.

The two soldiers, Rachel and Charity Witmer, were given the choice of returning to combat but delayed making their decision until after the funeral of Michelle, their 20-year-old sister and Charity's twin.

National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tim Donovan told The Associated Press that the sisters have decided to ask for noncombat jobs.

The two arrived home April 12 to attend their sister's funeral. Michelle Witmer was killed April 9 in an ambush.

Under Defense Department policy, when a soldier is killed while serving in a hostile area, other family members in the military may request a noncombat assignment.

Rachel Witmer, 24, serves with the 32nd Military Police Company, as did Michelle. The Wisconsin Army National Guard unit has served a year in the Middle East and recently had its term of service extended another four months.

Charity Witmer is a sergeant and medic with the 118th Medical Battalion, which arrived in Baghdad in February.

The sisters' unit commanders in Iraq had recommended that the two be given noncombat assignments, the AP reported.

"Both commanders asked Rachel and Charity not to return, not because these soldiers are not valid members of their units, but because they are," Maj. Gen. Al Wilkening of the Wisconsin Guard said in a statement.

In a statement read to reporters by Joan Apt, the sisters called the decision "the hardest we've ever made" but said they feel they made an informed choice.

They said Wilkening suggested that returning to Iraq could expose their fellow soldiers to increased danger because of their high profile. The sisters said they took that into account.

Donovan told reporters that the sisters "were quite frankly torn by this decision."

He said the sisters' possible assignments weren't decided but that their new jobs would take advantage of their skills. The sisters are on an extended leave of absence.

Original Story (http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Midwest/04/27/sister.soldiers/index.html)

Bill
28 Apr 04,, 08:34
I note that Tillman's brother has not requested out.

Confed999
01 May 04,, 03:11
I note that Tillman's brother has not requested out.
Not everyone can be made of the same metal.

ChrisF202
01 May 04,, 13:54
I personally belive that anyone who has a family member killed in a combat zone and who is in a combat zone should be pulled out, like with Private Ryan in SPR.

lemontree
06 Oct 04,, 11:41
I personally belive that anyone who has a family member killed in a combat zone and who is in a combat zone should be pulled out, like with Private Ryan in SPR.

That way whole units will have to be recycled out of the combat zone, if casualities are high. War is harsh and death is one of the realities. Soldiers dont need to be moly codled. Just give them respect when they get back home.