The inaugural face of the war is Major Tim Marshall of the 3rd Infantry Division. A native Texan, Maj. Marshall has served for 14 years and just returned from a one-year tour of duty in Iraq. Maj. Marshall joined the service because "it was just something I had to do. As a citizen, I felt I had to give something back." He's not an uneducated boob, as Belzer insists our troops are. Maj. Marshall graduated from Vanderbilt University with two degrees; the Army paid his way through the University. But he wasn't an underprivileged kid seduced by the promise of full tuition and then subjected to the rigors of war: Maj. Marshall's father has been in the insurance business for 30 years and eventually became a vice president at Lincoln Financial Group.
As a military planner, Maj. Marshall works from morning until evening crafting operations, debriefing and then recrafting. He isn't starry-eyed about our mission in Iraq. "Iraq is a Third World country, no doubt about it," says Maj. Marshall. "It will take a very long time for them to reach Western standards. But," he insists, "we are building a democracy there and creating, if not an ally, then at least a country that will fit within a circle of countries who are not actively opposed to us." There's also no question that the mainstream media is sensationalist: "Sensationalism sells. Whether I read newspapers or watch CNN, it's very clear that they're sensationalizing everything."
Like most other servicemen with whom I've spoken, Maj. Marshall cites as his best experience the bond with his fellow troops -- "the camaraderie is the best part about serving" -- and, as his worst experience, the distance from his family. Maj. Marshall is married with three children.
Currently stationed in the United States, Maj. Marshall is scheduled to return to Iraq this fall. How does he feel about returning? "I dread to leave my family again, but I look forward to the mission and feel it's my duty to go back."