Letters: Iraq, USS Kirk

Listeners respond to Tuesday's coverage of the formal end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq, and our story about the USS Kirk — the site of a dramatic rescue in the days before the Fall of Saigon in 1975. NPR's Robert Siegel and Melissa Block read from listeners' e-mails.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Time now for your emails.

(Soundbite of warfare)

SIEGEL: We aired an audio montage yesterday featuring some of the major events of the Iraq War.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Ben Chapel(ph) of Lawrence, Kansas, thinks there was one, glaring omission from that collection of sound: international protest against the war. He writes: These protests were historic in a number of ways in that they appealed to the president in advance of the start of the war, and that they were utterly ignored by him despite their global scale and that ultimately, the protesters' misgivings about the war proved to be correct. The world would be better off today if the protests had been heeded.

SIEGEL: I talked to Michael O'Hanlon, of the Brookings Institution, about the metrics of the Iraq War. Well, Dariel Cobb(ph) of New Haven, Connecticut, thought the conversation was callous. She writes this: O'Hanlon brushed by the number of Iraqi civilians killed, which he places at 100,000 to 150,000 - though other NGOs have placed the number at twice that amount.

Either way, I think the loss of so much innocent life, irrespective of nationality, deserves more airtime than the number of barrels of oil produced or megawatts of energy output.

BLOCK: Finally, there's reaction to our story yesterday about the USS Kirk. The Kirk was the scene of a dramatic rescue in the days before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Dozens of South Vietnamese helicopters packed with people fleeing the fighting tried to land on the ship's tiny flight deck. Kirk chief engineer Hugh Doyle related the scene.

Mr. HUGH DOYLE (Chief Engineer, USS Kirk): We laid mats and all kinds of blankets and stuff out on the deck for the babies. And there were all kinds of - there were infants and children and women and the women were crying and - oh, it was a scene I'll never forget.

SIEGEL: Well, our story moved Betty Modine(ph) of Oakridge, Oregon. She writes this: I sat with tears running down my face as I listened to this report. The story brought back the memory of sitting with a classmate while she waited to hear if her parents made it out of Saigon, where she lived for many years. They were missionaries, and some of the last out.

BLOCK: Ms. Modine continues: The anti-war movement had become so strong, and the need for that war to end was so great, that we have forgotten to honor those who so bravely did what needed to be done in the end. Thank you for telling this story.

SIEGEL: We appreciate your letters. Please write to us by visiting NPR.org and clicking on Contact Us.

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