Thanksgiving for many Missourians is being celebrated in Afghanistan, Iraq or even in Germany, where troops are being treated for injuries suffered in combat.
A Missouri soldier and Congressman in Germany on this Thanksgiving have talked with the Missourinet.
Sergeant First Class Paul East of Waynesville is being treated at the Landstuhl military hospital in Ramstein, Germany for severe chest pain he suffered while serving in Afghanistan. East is 48 and no stranger to service in the Middle East. He says morale among the troops is good.
“As for myself, I have a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan now. So, I know what it’s all about. I know what the heartaches and heartburns can be,” East tells the Missourinet in a telephone interview from the hospital. “But the younger ones who are over there for the first time are trying to experience that like I did and are learning a lot for their first adventure.”
East is being visited by West-Central Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Skelton says it’s special to visit the troops on Thanksgiving.
“The morale seems to be good and I just want to let them know that we appreciate them,” Skelton tells the Missourinet. “They are a grand bunch of young people and the care they are getting here (Landstuhl) is just first class.”
Skelton’s visit comes as President Obama prepares to address the nation about his strategy for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan which has given shelter and support to al Qaeda terrorists who operate on both sides of the Afghan and Pakistan border. Obama is scheduled to speak from West Point Tuesday evening. Reports surfaced earlier that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, had requested an additional 40,000 troops to bolster the 68,000 now deployed there. New reports from Washington indicate Defense Secretary Robert Gates favors deploying between 30,000 and 35,000 additional US troops and asking NATO allies to contribute another 10,000. Skelton has urged the president to listen to his commanders in the field. He says he received a call from the president last night and is anxious to hear Obama outline his plans. The United States began military operations in Afghanistan eight years ago.
Listen to Brent Martin’s interview of Sergeant East and Congressman Skelton.