Professional golfer Jerry Kelly isn't pleased with the media's coverage of the Iraq war. Neither is a U.S. soldier with whom Kelly spoke while the Madison, Wisconsin-based pro, along with fellow PGA tour members Corey Pavin, Howard Twitty, Frank Lickliter, and Donnie Hammond, recently spent eight days in Iraq under the auspices of the USO.
Kelly was interviewed about the trip by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel golf writer Gary D'Amato, whose story ran in Saturday's paper. Highlights:
The golfers visited 14 bases in Iraq, entertaining the troops with golf exhibitions and swapping stories with soldiers in conversations that stretched into the early morning hours...
[Kelly] came away with a new appreciation for what the soldiers are accomplishing and expressed in strong terms his disdain for how the war was being covered by the American media.
"Our soldiers are so selfless," he said. "We need to be promoting them and telling people what a great job they're doing. All they're hearing is bashing.
"One guy told me, 'I'm hesitant to do the job I was trained for. I don't want to return fire because I might be on CNN the next day.' That's sad. That's a guy risking his life for us. He doesn't want his family to see him on CNN being portrayed the way those guys are being portrayed."
Kelly said everywhere he went in Iraq, the soldiers were showered with affection.
"They're spreading so much goodwill," he said. "All the kids are coming up to them and hugging them and mobbing them. People were waving at us. They want us there...
"If we left now it would be so bad for those people who want us there and need us there and are getting the freedoms now they never had."