Letter from doomed soldier helped change congressman's mind on Afghan withdrawal dateSubmitted by BurningsiriusΩ™ on Thu, 09/20/2012 - 19:20
TAMPA — Sarah Sitton knew her husband Matt, an Army staff sergeant, was upset he and his men were forced to trudge through fields laden with improvised explosive devices.
She knew he was so concerned he wrote a letter essentially predicting his own death to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who attended the same Largo church as the Sittons.
What surprised her was how much impact the letter would have.
Young this week reversed his position on Afghanistan, a change of heart he says came in part because of Sitton's letter. In a position opposite that held by most leaders of his party, the influential Republican is now calling for U.S. troops to leave the country ahead of the 2014 deadline called for by President Barack Obama.
He also has called a hearing for 10 a.m. Thursday to ask the agency in charge of protecting troops against IEDs to explain why so many are still dying and suffering horrific injuries despite an annual budget of nearly $3 billion.
Sitton was killed Aug. 2 by an IED in the same field he had complained about in his letter. He was 26.
"I don't feel Matt's service was in vain," said Sarah Sitton, who now is raising the couple's 10-month-old son, Brodey, on her own. "Because with him leaving that letter behind to the Congressman, I hope that it saves others that may come in the future."
Young, the senior Republican in the House of Representatives and the chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee, said he has "always supported the war efforts."
But Young said two issues – troops like Sitton killed and maimed by IEDs, and the growing number of troops killed by Afghan forces they are training – moved him to waver from his commitment not to second-guess military leaders.
Here is the most telling part about our military leadership:
Sitton wrote his letter after his command "told him to quit whining," Young said.
Stop whining that you have to patrol a death field.