West Virginia’s two U.S. senators asked top military leaders Tuesday to explain why 1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV had to reimburse the U.S. Army $700 last week for body armor and other gear damaged after he was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
More than 200 people —from West Virginia and across the country — donated more than $5,700 to Rebrook after reading about his body armor payment to the Army.
Rebrook, 25, who was medically discharged from an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week, said he wouldn’t keep the donations. He’s passing along the money to charity and a Louisiana woman who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina. He said the woman’s son helped save his life in Iraq.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday, demanding that the Army refund Rebrook’s money immediately. ..........................
Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, attended the hearing.
“That is a very unusual story,” Schoomaker responded. “I have no idea why we would ever do something like that. We have issued body armor, the very best that exists in the world. Every soldier has it.
“We certainly have procedures that account for battle loss, and I just find it a highly unusual story. But we’ll certainly follow up and correct it if there’s any truth to it.” .............................
A Charleston radio station, WKWS-FM 96.1, raised $700 for Rebrook in less than an hour Tuesday morning. One woman hand-delivered a check for $350 to the radio station Tuesday.
“We read the story on the air, and the phones started ringing,” said the station’s Mike Fitzgerald.
The bulk of money for Rebrook was raised Tuesday after the soldier’s story was posted on americablog.com, a popular liberal political blog.
Donations ranged from $1 to $400, said John Aravosis, who runs the Internet blog. More than 187 people gave money. About 200 people posted to the blog.
“Everybody thinks liberals hate soldiers,” Aravosis said. “But the majority of people get that it’s not right to abuse our troops.”................................
“It’s a disgrace to humanity for our military to do that to a young boy who graduated from West Point,” said William Crouch of St. Albans. “I’m so mad now I can’t stand it.”