I thank God for the men and women of our military. As a young man just out of high school and just prior to the first Gulf War I attempted to join but could not due the fact that my left leg was 3/4" of an inch short in relation to my right. This prevented my ability to perform the 'duck-walk' during the MEPS center induction process in Louisville, KY. I had received my shipping orders for Fort Sill OK on 15th Nov. 1988, with an MOS of cannon crew member. I was joining the KY Nt. Guard, my memory fails me concerning the battalion I believe it was/is the 623rd fld. artillery. I was young then, only 18, had all the answers, knew God, but rarely sought His guidance (he has mercifully carried me a long, long way) I had every intention of pursuing an education through the GI bill and was planning to transfer to the regular army after my 4 yr. active service and thus retiring from service. All this planning of mine began to take shape in May 1988. In September I had already sworn allegiance to the U.S. and had endured extensive medical examinations to determine the ability for my perform in relation to the discrepancy in my left leg, at this time I was introduced to my wife. I continued to pursue my goal and learned from the CO at the MEPS center that my ASVAB scores had become invalidated since taking the test originally as a junior in High School. I retested in Louisville and failed, scoring less than enough to even be considered by the USMC according to 1988 standards, but doing this after scoring a 56 on the test in high school. I retook the test the following week and scored a 60, (I don't know the relation of the scores), the MEPS administration refused to accept this score because of the more than forty point jump between the two. My dad being a Vietnam veteran, we discussed things and I decided to discontinue my attempts enter into military life. At first the military did not want to "co-operate" with this, after all I had already sworn in, but this was no problem as we were at peace at the present time. Once Desert Storm began to brew and then struck the regular Army recruiter located in Somerset KY was forwarded my file from the guard post in Campbellsville and he began to religiously visit the home of my now wife and I of two years and our new born eldest son. This fellow tried to humiliate me into enlisting attempting to envoke in me shame for a 'lack' of patriotism. I told him to go back to Somerset and call me before a draft board and I would gladly go. (After all our Heavenly Father has given us the ability of rational thought and I saw no need at the present to volunteer for a war). All you veterans out there, who, like my dad, did volunteer, forgive my cowardice. The war progressed, the objectives were met. Though I did not go, I had many friends from that time who did and many I have by the Grace of God met since. These Americans as do all Americans who have served in harms way and most especially those who never had the opportunity then and now to pursue that 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness' will never know the aching in my heart and the deep sense of love and gratitude I have for their sacrifice. May God Richly Bless these brave souls in their lives. For were it not for such as these, willing to buy my freedom with their blood what safety would I now enjoy? I say with all sincerety that each time our military has been put in harm's way on my behalf and that of my wife and children, each time our nation has called upon them and they have risen to the call self-lessly, my heart has ached because they were and remain willing to answer, to defend millions who they do not know and never possibly will in this world. When we fly our flags on our front yards, when we display it on our automobiles, when we say God Bless America, let us especially remember to request the Blessings of God upon those who have travelled to distant shores in order that we can remain here. Do we oppose the war? These have secured that liberty. Thank God and God Bless the Americans who know what Freedom costs. Brother Dallas Eaton II U.S. Casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom Sunday, March 23, 2003 NEW YORK — Nine U.S. soldiers have officially become casualties of the war in Iraq, one dying in a grenade attack in Kuwait, one in a vehicle accident in southern Iraq, five in helicopter crashes and two in ground operations. One soldier was killed and 15 injured Sunday in a grenade attack, for which a U.S. soldier was being held as a suspect. -- Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, was killed by the grenade. He was assigned to the 1-101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. A serviceman from the 3rd Infantry Division died in a vehicle crash in southern Iraq. A U.S. Navy officer and six British troops were killed Saturday when two British Royal Navy helicopters collided over the Persian Gulf. -- U.S. Navy Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams, 27, of La Mesa, Calif. was killed in the collision. He had been assigned as an exchange officer with the Royal Navy's 849th Squadron since October 2002. Two Marines that were based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., were killed Friday in ground fighting as U.S. and British forces overtook the town of Safwan in southern Iraq and the strategic Persian Gulf port of Umm Qasr en route to Baghdad. -- Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, of Los Angeles, assigned to the 2nd battalion, 1st Marine regiment, of the 1st Marine Division. -- 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers, 30, of Harrison, Miss., with the 1st battalion, 5th Marine regiment, of the 1st Marine Division. A U.S. Marine helicopter carrying eight British and four U.S. soldiers crashed in Kuwait Friday, killing everyone on board, the Pentagon said. The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force crashed at 7:37 p.m. EST (Friday morning in Kuwait), about nine miles away from the border with Iraq, military officials said. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the officials said, adding that hostile fire had not been reported in the area. Among those who died in the crash were: — Three Marines based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.: Marine Ryan Beaupre, 30, of St. Anne, Ill. Beaupre piloted the CH-46, according to his sister, Alyse. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29, of Baltimore, a specialist in helicopter maintenance. He was assigned to the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-268, Third Marine Aircraft Wing. Cpl. Brian Kennedy, a Texan whose mother lives in Port Clyde, Maine. —- The other Marine killed in the crash was identified as Capt. Jay Aubin of Waterville, Maine, who was based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. Fox News' Amy Sims and The Associated Press contributed to this report.