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Local residents react to president's plan

January 11, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Shari Hastings, the mother of a soldier injured in Iraq, said she has conflicting emotions about the war.

She is not alone.

President George W. Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq met with mixed reaction Wednesday, even among some like Hastings, who say they support the mission.

"I believe in what's going on over there, but still, it hits close to home when it's one of your own," said Hastings, whose son, Dustin, was injured by shrapnel Sept. 2.

Bush announced in an address to the nation Wednesday that he plans to increase the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by 21,500 soldiers.

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For Harry Jones of Hagerstown, who served as a U.S. Marine, that will not be enough.

"I don't believe they're going to send enough troops over there to get the job done, and if they're not going to do that, they need to bring them home and bring them home now," Jones, 40, said at a local bowling alley before Bush's speech.

Joyce Gladhill has deep roots in the military. Her husband is a Vietnam veteran, and her son-in-law is serving aboard a U.S. Navy ship that participated in recent strikes against terrorists in Somalia, she said.

Gladhill's niece might be deployed to Iraq, she said.

"We believe freedom isn't free, but we can't keep doing it for the Iraqis. The Iraqis are going to have to step up to the plate. We have to do it all or nothing," said Gladhill, who answered the phone at American Legion Post 202 in Williamsport. She said the situation in Iraq reminds her of another war.

"Well, we either have to pull all our efforts into it, or we have to get out. We can't have another Vietnam," Gladhill said.

Hastings, of Smithsburg, said her son has told her that he believes the troops who are serving need more help. He is back on a base in Oklahoma, she said.

When she discussed the possibility of a troop surge with him, her son said, "Mom, they need to, we need more (soldiers) to back up our guys."

Allen Taylor of Hagerstown described the situation in Iraq as a "real mess." He said his son could start a second deployment in May.

In the beginning, Taylor said, he supported the war. On Wednesday, he expressed doubts.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is if we're going to do the job, we need to do it right and get out of there," Taylor said.

Eric Windsor was emphatic in his support for completing the mission.

"I think the president and the generals need to figure this out, and the rest of the country needs to stand behind them," said Windsor, the father of a 19-year-old in Iraq.

Windsor said he thinks the military has gained enough experience to win the fight, and he said before Bush's speech that he would support a troop surge in Iraq, if the military thinks that is necessary.

"I think they're the people that know how to fight this war, not politicians," Windsor said.

Alison Melotti-Cormack of Chambersburg has participated in protests against the war. She said late Wednesday that nothing has changed.

"It just seems too little, too late, I mean, in terms of a war-time tactic. It seems like so many young people are being put in harm's way, it makes me heartsick," Melotti-Cormack said.

Ryan Evans, 42, of Hagerstown, voiced similar sentiments.

"My opinion: Bring our troops home, they've been over there long enough," Evans said.

If he gets the order, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Duane Enderle definitely would go back to Iraq, his mother said.

On Wednesday, though, Kay Enderle said she wished the country was not fighting there. Both her son, now 38, and his wife have served in the Army, she said.

"They have very strong feelings, but I'm his mom, and he's the only son we have, and we don't want to see him go back," Kay Enderle said.

He wears a bracelet with the names of soldiers who died while serving in Iraq with him, his mother said.

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