War did not come soon enough | TahoeDailyTribune.com

War did not come soon enough

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The U.S. military should have invaded Iraq months ago to prevent its military from bolstering defenses that will put the lives of more American troops at risk, said one South Lake Tahoe war veteran late Wednesday.

With the sound of news reports blaring at his home, Ray Bridges, 78, a Marine who served in World War II, said he is concerned about the young troops at the front line.

“I know how hesitation can hurt you,” said Bridges, who served for three years. “It’s worrying me they let the kids sit out there while they built up against them. Three or four months is too long to give anybody to build defenses.”

Bridges said he supports the president now that war has started, but he said Bush should have toned down his “hawkish attitude and that maybe would have brought the world together a little better.”

Earl Halliday, 78, who served in the Navy in World War II, said the long buildup to war allowed anti-war sentiment to gain momentum. But he is among the majority of the American people who thinks Saddam Hussein needs to go.

“We probably should have started a lot sooner,” Halliday said. “We need to go ahead and get that guy out of there before they have weapons of mass destruction.”

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Clarence Olivas, 79, served in the Army during WWII as a mechanic. He is concerned American troops will be captured and killed.

“I feel if they get any of our people prisoner, they’ll just line them up and down they’ll go,” Olivas said. “This is a different kind of war than in World War II, Korea or Vietnam. There is no respect for human life.”

Olivas’ wife, Carol, has a great-nephew who is a Marine MP stationed in Kuwait. Family members last talked to Christopher Daily, 21, a week ago. He told his mother he was guarding convoys of equipment headed to the front line.

“We just hope it will be quick and fast and our people will get home and get back to normal,” Carol Olivas, 63, said. “We have 250,000 men over there.”

Last week, Carol Olivas sent her nephew, who shipped out from Camp Pendleton on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, a care package. It contained a case of playing cards donated by a Stateline casino, a basketball, a soccer ball, an Easter basket and some sunscreen.

“It is not that we think the government is not giving them these things, but if they have too much, they can share,” she said.

Keith Cooney, 46, served as an administrative clerk in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. On Wednesday night, he brimmed with support for the war.

“I think it should have happened sooner. Definitely,” Cooney said. “I’m all for this. I support the president and our troops. I believe we need to take Saddam out and get rid of his weapons of mass destruction. I believe he does have them. I just hope and pray the delay doesn’t hurt our troops.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com