VOICES: War dead not ‘loser or a sucker,’ but brave defender of our liberty and our country, peacetime soldier says

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This opinion column by Dayton resident Burt Saidel appeared on the Dayton Daily News Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Sept. 13.

In 1955, the services were reduced in size. The Korean conflict was over and Vietnam was virtually unheard of. I was a peacetime soldier.

Many older medical colleagues during the Korean conflict had to leave their practices to serve. All advice to me was to try to get an appointment to serve before starting my practice and avoid the imposed interruption.I received an acceptance from the Air Force.

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This was an opportunity to practice my chosen profession and serve my country. Duty, patriotism, commitment, service to others began for me as a Boy Scout. Those qualities have never left me.

I am proud of my short military career. More than pride, I was, and am, grateful. I was assigned to Adana, Turkey. As an ancient history student, I was enthralled.

Our base, was a tiny enclave of 125 Americans.

I sutured every part of the body, set broken jaws and arms, tied off hemorrhoids and any other problem that appeared.

I created a two box medical-dental kit. Using our base’s only aircraft, an L20, a flying version of a Ford pick-up truck, I was able to visit all of the sites at intervals and dispense care.

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My ingenuity of providing care for these isolated sites was recognized by Maj. Gen. Glantzberg, commander of the 17th Air Force. He personally commended me.

All of this is a precursor to the reason for this writing. I heard remarks that President Trump had made concerning men and women in uniform. I found them unbelievable. I heard the denials from the White House, but found them believable as President Trump spent his days insulting nearly everyone.

I remember hearing the denigration of the great hero, John McCain, directly from President Trump’s lips. I did not want to believe that the commander in chief could utter such heinous things about our military.

As corroborations kept coming in and the behavior of President Trump made it all too believable, my personal response overwhelmed me. I became angry. I remain angry. How dare anyone call those who have served, or even those who have lost life or limb, “suckers and losers.”

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Many died and their resting places have been treated crudely by the president. During my years of active duty, I was filled with admiration and love for my comrades at arms. Many of them had served in all of the “modern” wars.

Closer to home, my wife Alice’s roommate from her days at Smith College is a true war widow. “Toot” as he was called, attended Amherst College. We courted our loves together.

While I was still in graduate school, Toot was flying fighters in Vietnam. He was reported missing in action. His wife Anne remains to this day a war widow. Toot was not a loser or a sucker. He was a brave defender of our liberty and our country. He is mourned and exalted in our loving memory.


His remains were found nearly 50 years after his MIA designation. Our military never gave up on finding him. President Trump obviously does not understand that value in others lives.

Dr. Burton Saidel, a retired dentist and downtown resident, is a fixture in Dayton’s art scene.

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