Drive to Bring U.S. Troops Home Begins

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Monday, August 25, 2003 at 2:24PM :

These are the good people who realize that the U.S. government views its own troops as expendable until the citizens complain & threaten to use their vote against the current administration....
August 25, 2003
Coshocton Tribune (Ohio), via
Coalition Starts Drive to Bring U.S. Troops Home
by Kathie Dickerson

A coalition of family members, peace activists and veterans groups launched a long-shot campaign recently to recall U.S. troops from war-torn Iraq.

Members of the "Bring Them Home Now" campaign told reporters that President Bush lied about reasons for going to war. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and Bush has not proved a link between former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terrorists, the group said.

And U.S. soldiers have become targets of Iraqis who consider them invaders, not liberators. The Pentagon said 267 troops have died in Iraq as of Aug. 13, including 58 from hostile fire after Bush declared major hostilities ended May 1.

"The war was supposed to be over," said Kathy Powell, of Conesville. "After what happened yesterday, I was so upset, I cried. I'm very angry and bitter."

Powell was referring to a truck bomb explosion that wrecked U.N. headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and injuring about 100.

Her son, Pfc. Lee Gadfield, is serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

She said at first she supported President Bush when he sent troops to the Middle East, but now she's confused as to why they're still in Iraq.

"I still support our troops," she said. "I send Lee packages all the time, snacks and water, things like that. It's expensive, but it's worth it." Powell's also worked with distributors to her business, The Conesville Store, to obtain donations for other military members.

She said it's been stressful trying to keep her business running smoothly while worrying about her son.

"His wife's in Colorado, and she's due to have a baby next month," she said. "He's begged me to please be there for the birth of his son, and I plan to be there."

She said Gadfield's experiences in Iraq have changed his attitude about life. As he observes Iraqi children who have nothing to eat, dig holes to sleep in and wear sheets for clothes, he's come to appreciate all the things he had stateside. He's gone from a carefree young man to someone who quotes the Bible in his letters to her.

"How much more of this do we have to go through?" she said.

The Bring Them Home campaign claims a membership of 600 families and plans to lobby lawmakers to bring back troops from Iraq. Some coalition members said the odds of recalling U.S. soldiers are slim, but they hope opposition to Iraq's occupation could become a campaign issue during the 2004 presidential and congressional elections.

Gadfield shipped out for the Middle East the first part of April, and celebrated his 22nd birthday, April 21, in Iraq. He told his mother he would be spending six months overseas. Now he's received information that makes him believe he will be celebrating his 23rd birthday in Iraq, she said.

Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to search for weapons of mass destruction and stabilize the country.

Craig Hunley, of Coshocton has a son, Spc. Jeremy Hunley, who is serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq. He's not happy American troops are still in Iraq, but he agrees with the vice president on the issue.

"If they are needed over there they need to stay," he said. "Yes -- I'd like to see Jeremy home. But they've got a job to do."

Although hundreds of soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney said their sacrifice has deterred more terrorist attacks against the United States.

"But remember, we lost some 3,000 Americans here at home on Sept. 11," Cheney said during a reception for Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., in Albuquerque. "And we're certainly in much better shape if we're aggressively going after the terrorists overseas and after the nations and the mechanisms that support them than if we lay back and wait to be struck again here at home."

Some Bring Them Home Now members said the Iraq war was more for oil than to make the United States safer. Their children and spouses in Iraq also tell them that working conditions there are deplorable, with temperatures of 120 degrees, strict water rationing and a lack of equipment such as radios and trucks.

Not enough troops are in Iraq to stop assaults against U.S. soldiers, which the group says the Pentagon and media are underreporting. About 139,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, but some critics said that number should be at least doubled.

Meanwhile, family members in the U.S., like Kathy Reichelderfer of Newcomerstown, wait each day for news.

Her husband, Sgt. Anthony Reichelderfer, is serving with the Ohio National Guard 1485th Transportation Co. in the Middle East.

"I'm ready for my husband to come home," she said. "It seems more soldiers are getting killed now than when the actual fighting was going on. They've done what they were sent to do, served their time over there, now they should get to come home."

Reporter Greg Wright of Gannett News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright 2003 Coshocton Tribune

-- Sadie
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