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Backing for Bush on Iraq is gone, local veterans say

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  • Jim Senyszyn
    BACKING FOR BUSH ON IRAQ IS GONE, LOCAL VETERANS SAY Michael Mayo News Columnist South Florida Sun-Sentinel June 29, 2005 http://tinyurl.com/drunn HOLLYWOOD
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2005
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      Michael Mayo
      News Columnist
      South Florida Sun-Sentinel
      June 29, 2005

      HOLLYWOOD The televisions at
      VFW Post 2500 in Hollywood were
      tuned to President Bush on
      Tuesday, but his words weren't
      getting rapt attention.

      About 30 people were around the
      bar drinking, chatting, smoking
      as the president talked. "Does
      it have to be so loud?" asked
      Barbara Flint as she sat next
      to Jerry Giblock, a visiting
      Vietnam veteran.

      "He's running scared," said
      Giblock, 63, a former Post 2500
      member who lives in Anchorage,
      Ala. "His poll numbers are so
      low, he's got to say something,
      but the support is gone. It's
      gone. I don't think there's
      anybody in here who's behind

      Tuesday was spaghetti dinner
      night at the hall on Dixie
      Highway, where $4 got you a
      nice plate with meatballs and
      garlic bread. Post commander
      Richard McDonald pointed to a
      sign hanging above the bar:
      "It's not the price you paid
      to join. It's the price you
      paid to be eligible."

      These veterans have fought in
      foreign wars and struggled
      after them, which makes them
      more than eligible to comment
      on the ongoing war in Iraq.

      The view inside the faded
      lounge wasn't optimistic.

      From Charlie Nessl, 89, who
      fought in World War II at the
      battle of Midway: "I don't
      think we should be there."

      From Bob Artman, 79, a World
      War II veteran: "I got a bad
      taste in my mouth. Every time
      I read about a guy getting
      killed, I tear up. I didn't
      feel this way at the
      beginning, but now I just
      don't see an end to it."

      From Ted Anderson, 73, a
      Korean War veteran and former
      police chief in New Jersey:
      "We still have thousands of
      troops in the [demilitarized
      zone] in Korea 50 years after
      the fact. It's going to be
      the same thing 50 years from
      now in Iraq."

      The last time I came around
      here, in May 2004, President
      Bush was about to give a
      speech about Iraq, and the
      veterans' feelings were
      mixed. Some thought the war
      justified. Others had nagging
      feelings of doubt.

      But this time, as Bush once
      again spoke to the nation,
      there was nothing but
      skepticism about the war's
      necessity, and worry about
      a staying the course.

      "When you got people who are
      willing to strap bombs to
      themselves and blow themselves
      up, that's a hard war to win,"
      said McDonald, 71, a Korean
      War vet who voted for the
      president last year. "I think
      Bush had the right idea, but
      now it's turned into a
      religious war for some people
      there. And that's the worst
      kind of war to be in.

      "The thing is, Bush is committed,
      so he's got to stick to his guns.
      But at some point he's got to
      come up with a plan to get out
      of there because we're never
      going to be able to get rid of
      100 percent of the terrorists.
      He's going to have to pull out,
      just like Vietnam."

      Said Artman: "I'm a registered
      Democrat, but even people in his
      party are now questioning things.
      They don't see the light at the
      end of the tunnel. ... So many
      people in this country need
      things: People are starving,
      people need health care and
      medicine. But here we are taking
      care of people all over the world.
      How about starting at home?"

      Howard Fay, a former prisoner of
      war in Vietnam, ladled meatballs
      in the kitchen.

      "I don't like this war at all,"
      he said. "Saddam wasn't doing
      anything to us. The one we
      should have been going after
      with everything is Osama bin

      Bush invoked bin Laden and Sept.
      11 in his speech, stressing the
      non-Iraqi "terrorists" who have
      congregated in Iraq to make the
      country "a central front in the
      war on terror."

      Said Anderson, who spent nine
      years in the Navy and Marines:
      "They just play up on the fear.
      It used to be the domino theory
      and stopping communism. There
      was a picture, The Russians Are
      Coming, The Russians are Coming.
      Now it's `The Terrorists are
      Coming, The Terrorists are
      Coming.' After 9-11, I think we
      overreacted a little bit. We're
      not using our heads."

      These veterans know war is never
      simple or easy, and they say
      this president, who never saw
      combat, overlooked these things
      in his rush to invade Iraq and
      install democracy.

      "I have no respect for this
      president," said Bud Lynch of
      Hallandale, a Korean War veteran.
      "He's just trying to finish
      Daddy's job. That's all this was
      about. There was no nuclear
      [expletive] or WMDs to begin with
      ... If it were my son who was
      being sent over there, I wouldn't
      let him go."

      Said Nessl: "These people have no
      idea what war is like."

      Said Anderson: "Korea turned out
      to be B.S., Vietnam was B.S., and
      Iraq is B.S. It's all political.
      All these people are dying in vain
      ... I was in for nine years, so
      don't go waving a flag in my face
      and say I'm not being patriotic."

      Bush heard applause as he finished
      at Fort Bragg, but there wasn't a
      ripple at Post 2500.

      "I go to a VA Hospital in Anchorage
      for my medicine and I'm seeing a
      lot of new people in there every
      time," said Giblock. "We have an
      Army base and an Air Force base
      nearby, and they're getting
      MedVac'ed back in [from Iraq] all
      the time.

      "I'm seeing people in wheelchairs,
      people missing limbs, people with
      burns. That's the part they don't
      show on the news."

      Michael Mayo can be reached at
      mmayo@... or

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      South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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