Strong support for troops here

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

While missiles fall on Baghdad and U.S. and coalition troopsprepare to move into Iraq, support here remains strong for theservice men and women overseas.

The reasons for that support are varied. Justifications for thewar vary from freeing Saddam Hussein’s people from tyrannicaloppression to finishing what was begun more than a decade ago.

“I want it to happen,” said Sabrina Cronin of Loyd Star. “Saddamneeds to go to give everyone in his country a chance to succeed inlife, to have a voice that’s not his opinion.”

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Monica Jefferson of Brookhaven said, “Those people need help,and it’s an old unsettled score.”

Jefferson said she just hopes that this time the government willallow the military to finish the job.

“It’s very devastating to know we’re in the same predicament wewere in before,” she said. “We shouldn’t be doing this twice.”

Tiffany Cronin of Loyd Star, Sabrina’s aunt, compared SaddamHussein to a child. She said, like a child, he would continue topush his limits until someone follows through with threats to forcehim to stop.

“I think we should go in because if we don’t, he’ll keep causingmore problems,” she said. “I just hope a lot of people don’t getkilled. I’m glad my boys aren’t old enough to go.”

Gloria Bonds of Franklin County said she supports the war effortbut hopes the job is finished quickly before public supportwavers.

“I wish they would go over there, get it done and come back,”Bonds said. “I don’t want another Vietnam.”

She lived through the Vietnam War years, she said, and married aveteran of the conflict.

Although she believes in the present war effort, she worriesthat public support will become as controversial as it was then,when protests and riots were held in opposition to the war.

“We’re already seeing some of that,” she said. “It’s verydisheartening to the troops. I don’t want to see them come home andbe reviled like they were then. They were killed for nothing, andthe ones who survived were not appreciated when they camehome.”

Cliff Westmoreland of Silver Creek said he is fully behind thewar effort, but only if it was being held for the rightreasons.

“If he is a threat, then he needs to be taken out,” Westmorelandsaid of the Iraqi leader. “If he’s harboring terrorists or chemicalweapons, he needs to be taken out. But if this is all about oil,then I will be mad.”

While most declined to speculate on how long they thought theIraq campaign might last because they said they lacked militaryexperience, Westmoreland said he felt it would be a repeat of the1991 Persian Gulf conflict, which was over in days.

“We have the better military and better leadership, so itshouldn’t be too tough,” he said.

He predicted the length of the campaign would be up to theleaders and the military of the United States. He said it woulddepend on the length of pre-assault bombardments and how long ittook to locate Hussein.