I find it very hard to believe the hatred of Sgt. Robert Bales in William Smith's recent letter ("Don't pity Sgt. Bales," March 29).

Yes, the killing of innocent men, women and children was wrong, and my prayers go out to them. But what about the thousands of innocents who were killed on9/11? What about the thousands of our military service members who have been killed or injured fighting those who would kill us without thinking twice?

It takes great strength and conviction to don a uniform in order to protect this country. Sergeant Bales should not have been serving a fourth tour of duty after the injuries he already had suffered. But he did as he was told, and that kind of stress could cause anyone to snap.

Has Mr. Smith ever been subjected to that kind of stress? My father served three years in World War II, including during the Battle of the Bulge. He told my sisters and me about the horrible experiences he lived through. He did not come home unscathed. The few times he did talk about the war, tears came to his eyes.

There is a saying: Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Mr. Bales will have to live with these memories for the rest of his life, as will his family. For another American to say he should have been turned over to the Afghans is outrageous.

JoAnn Parrish, Glen Burnie