I am confused, bewildered, disappointed and even, perhaps, a bit angry. My dear friend of over 30 years has been smeared to sound like a bully and therefore a justifiable victim when he was gunned down on the street last June -- shot three times in the chest and once in the back.

The fact that the perpetrator of the shooting (the person that took another human being's life) has been acquitted and is now free to resume carrying a gun and do the things that living people do is not the issue.

The fact that my friend, whom I have never seen lift a finger to hurt anyone, is painted as an intimidating bully is just wrong. The man spent 24 years in the Marine Corps -- he is a passionate man. He has strong views on life and society -- he is passionate about his views and that shows. The fact that this passion has somehow been spun into a bully mentality, again, is just wrong.

I feel very strongly that others need to know the person I knew. David Wintermyer (Dukie as we affectionately called him) was a good man. This is a tragedy on many levels, as I am sure this has affected so many people. All the Pop Warner children Dukie coached. All the many recipients of his overwhelming generosity -- he gave his time and resources to others less fortunate. And, of course, to all his family and friends -- we are all so saddened that he is no longer with us.

He had a bright smile and always a positive, upbeat attitude -- "No Worries" or "How can I help?" are what we would hear from Dukie. He was a true hero to so many of us and inspired so many others to achieve their dreams. Tragic.

With the help of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I am able to come to terms with what happened (Dukie being killed and the subsequent acquittal), knowing that Dukie is with our Savior in the promised land. I will never understand it and don't pretend to ask why -- we will all have to give an account for our actions on the day of reckoning. I believe Dukie served his purpose on Earth. I truly believe he was put here to serve and protect others, which he did all his life.

Thank you, David. I have been truly blessed to call you my friend -- you are missed every day.

Thaddeus A. Burger

Millsboro, Del.