View Full Version : Marine town reacts to Bush's speech on Iraq

06-29-05, 07:28 AM
Posted on Wed, Jun. 29, 2005
Marine town reacts to Bush's speech on Iraq
Associated Press

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Residents of this seaside Marine town - already girded for a long battle ahead - were little surprised that President Bush rejected suggestions for a timetable on troop withdrawal.

"If we give up in Iraq now, they'll go back to anarchy," said Rex Owens, 47, who watched President Bush's prime-time address Tuesday at the Rusty Spur bar. "We can't leave there with the job half done."

A handful of Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton watched the speech while getting haircuts at the Beachcomber Barbershop, where a photograph of President Bush hung on the wall, and U.S. Marine and American flags flew outside.

Cpl. James Anderson, 22, said he welcomed Bush's refusal to set a timetable.

"Like any Marine, you do the job until it's done. You don't just do it halfway and leave," said Anderson, a Houston native who said he was scheduled to leave for Iraq soon.

Fellow Houston native Cpl. Chase Krebbs, 22, agreed.

"I'm a Marine. That's why I joined, to do this stuff, to serve and protect," Krebbs said.

During his speech Tuesday night at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Bush acknowledged the death toll from the 27-month-old war but sought to persuade skeptical Americans that his strategy for victory needed only time - not any changes - to be successful.

California-based troops have suffered more deaths than troops from any other state, accounting for 181 of 878 fatalities since the June 28, 2004, hand over of sovereignty to Iraq from the U.S.-led coalition.

Their deaths hit home in Oceanside, about 35 miles north of San Diego, where the main streets are lined with barber shops, dry cleaners and military supply stores that cater to the Camp Pendleton Marines. Many of the casualties are from Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

At Mary's Family Restaurant in Oceanside, Pat Tolford said she supported Bush's effort to shore up support for the war.

"I think he's just trying to get everyone behind him," she said over a plate of fish and chips.

Asked if he succeeded, she responded it was hard to say.

Restaurant owner Jose Hernandez said his customers continue to support the war despite the mounting casualties. One customer recently stopped in to tell him that her son died in Iraq during his second tour there, Hernandez said.

"We have a lot of kids still there. We can't stop supporting them until they come home," he said.

Joe Villamar, who cuts hair for Marines at Best Barbers, missed the second half of Bush's address to take a phone call.

"There was no news, nothing we haven't heard before," he said. A yellow ribbon was painted on the barber shop window, next to the words, "Welcome Home Troops."