Wednesday, July 22, 2009



BAGHDAD--Reason, Commerce, Justice & Free Beer regrets to report that an American soldier has died in Iraq. At 5:30 AM EST, the Pentagon confirmed that Private First Class John C. Earl of the Army’s First Division (The Big Red One) succumbed in a hospital after suffering injuries in a vicious firefight with Sunni insurgents near Baghdad. Pfc. Earl was 23 years old. We express our deepest sympathies to Pfc. Earl’s family and loved ones. When American heroes fall, we all feel pain.

Pfc. Earl was a model soldier and citizen. He hailed from Mansfield, Ohio, where he worked at a local car insurance company as an assistant claims representative prior to joining the Army in February 2008. Earl explained to his parents that he joined the army “because al-Qaeda [was] a real threat to all Ohioans.” According to friends, Earl also said that “Osama bin Laden knew Saddam Hussein” and that “Saddam [had] to be stopped,” even though Saddam had been hanged in January 2007. Risking all for his beliefs and his country, Earl left behind a promising insurance career and young wife to protect Ohio from international terror in Iraq.

Pfc. Earl conducted himself with great dignity and responsibility during civilian life. As a teenager, he financed his own high school education by taking out private loans (at 9% APR) from a local Ohio bank. He took out loans from another bank (at 7.6% APR) in order to purchase a 2005 Chevrolet automobile. Despite his early age, Earl worked hard to fulfill his financial obligations to his creditors. He studied full-time and held down three jobs at the same time, including a job at the local ice cream parlor. He never failed to make timely payments on his loans. Upon graduation from high school in 2004, Earl married his sweetheart, Joanna C. Edwards. Earl took out another loan (at 6.9% APR) to purchase a home for his new family. He never missed a mortgage payment, even when he needed to work seven days a week to satisfy his debt responsibilities.

Earl was just as responsible a husband as he was a debtor. He never cheated on his wife. In fact, he accompanied her to the Third Mansfield Methodist Church every Sunday at 10 AM. For Earl, fidelity was a virtue. He honored both the wife to whom he owed faithfulness and the banks to whom he owed money. Most importantly, Earl never even entertained bad thoughts. He took the Bible’s teachings to heart. According to acquaintances, Earl always said: “A sin in the mind is just as bad as a sin in deed.” Despite pressures, temptations and difficulties, Earl never shirked his responsibilities. He understood his place in society. And he worked hard to fulfill his obligations every single day.

Earl believed that military service was the best way to give back for his rewarding life in America. Earl was proud of his job at the Mansfield Property & Casualty Insurance Company, where he earned $23,300 per year with limited co-pay medical insurance (with in-network providers and subject to the company’s right of refusal). He was proud of his wife, mortgage, car and church. Earl was happy in his civilian life. But he understood that al-Qaeda could take it all away unless he stood up to protect it. He volunteered for active duty in Iraq, determined to stop the terrorists bent on taking away his job, church, wife and obligations. Over his wife’s desperate pleas to stay home to raise their child, Earl went off to war.

Not surprisingly, Earl lived military life with the same spirit of duty and responsibility that blessed him in civilian life. He manned a 50-caliber machine gun atop an armored vehicle assigned to protect a fortified compound in Iraq that housed important American energy industry contractors. Within weeks, Earl had his first taste of battle. In a violent engagement known as Operation Purple Anaconda, Earl’s unit preemptively attacked an insurgent base in Baghdad, inflicting 5,612 enemy casualties without losing a single American soldier. Earl personally killed 672 insurgents, none of whom went to church, paid rent, filed income tax returns, owned automobiles, owed interest on back loans or held down responsible jobs. In fact, each insurgent Earl killed had sworn a vow to murder American children, disrupt American commerce, refuse to pay bills and kill American pets. Worse, every insurgent Earl killed had cheated on his wife, inhabited several addresses over the past six years and failed to return phone calls from prospective employers. In Earl’s words: “They weren’t just terrorists. They were irresponsible, too.” In that first battle, Earl served his country well.

Following his baptism by fire, Earl quickly became a veteran. In battle after battle, he showed outstanding valor by gunning down both actual and suspected terrorists, including veiled men masquerading as women. In each case, he showed great responsibility. Although he grieved when comrades died, he took solace in the knowledge that roughly 4,012 Iraqis died for every American who fell. And he took added consolation in the fact that every single Iraqi he killed was an irresponsible terrorist who threatened American jobs and investment ventures. If he could not save his buddies, at least he could kill thousands more insurgents to protect America.

Earl saw his final battle on July 10. While protecting a convoy of American natural gas excavators on a foray to locate fossil fuel deposits south of Baghdad, an enormous insurgent force—including terrorist raiders on camelback—swooped in from the desert hills. Earl laid down a curtain of fire with his 50-caliber machine gun, mowing down 982 insurgents and camels. His comrades called for air support. A-10 ground attack planes raked the terrorists with 30-millimeter cannon fire and deluged them with napalm. A-64 Apache attack helicopters hammered them with missiles. Over ten thousand extremists perished under the withering American fire, but they just kept coming. Like obsessed banshees from Muslim Hell, they charged Earl’s brave defenders, shouting: “Allah, ackbar!”

At some point, Earl ran out of ammunition. According to eyewitnesses, a cowardly insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the side of Earl’s armored vehicle, catapulting him from his position. He suffered injuries in the fall but kept fighting. He drew his sidearm and shot four camels, then killed their riders with his standard-issue knife. But there were too many insurgents. Taking meticulous aim, Earl fired his last shot into an insurgent’s head. Like all the others, Earl’s final victim—an Iraqi terrorist insurgent bomber named Ibrahim al-Khalifi, age 19—was a perennial marital cheater, credit dodger and deadbeat tenant who never paid rent or went to church. With his last bullet gone, Earl valiantly tried to fight his oppressors with his bare hands. Although he strangled six irresponsible terrorists, a cowardly insurgent blew himself up with a grenade less than 5 feet from Earl, sending lethal shrapnel into his chest. He collapsed to the ground. Minutes later, M1A1 tanks from the 1st Armored Division arrived, killed the remaining 75,000 insurgents and saved the natural gas excavators from certain death. Medics carried Earl from the field and transported him to a military hospital in Baghdad.

Earl put up a brave fight for survival. He endured for ten days before finally slipping into a coma. Immediately before his death, Earl told his commanding officer: “At least I took a few thousand of those deadbeat terrorist bastards with me. They might have taken my life, but they’ll never lay a hand on my wife or steal my job. And I made all my payments, too. I never missed one. I don’t regret anything. I made all the right decisions. I never cheated. I never asked anyone for help. Please make sure someone sends in the checks for July to GMAC and the bank. They’re in my knapsack. I even put stamps on the envelopes. I am proud to have given my life for a country where I could take out loans for my necessities.” In short, in his last moments on earth, Earl was thinking responsibly.

Back in Mansfield, George G. Custice, Earl’s former employer, reacted to news of his employee’s death with great emotion. Starting next week, however, he plans to honor Earl as an American hero by offering special “Hero’s Insurance Rates” for Mansfield residents. Those rates offer a 15% discount on collision policies purchased before August 31, 2009 (subject to special limitations; see store for details). “It’s the least we can do to salute a great American,” Custice said.

Earl’s wife said: “I’m sad. But I’m glad my husband protected Ohio against Saddam Hussein.”

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