Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Someone Needs to Contact Ann Coulter and have her "Frag" these Troops ......Troops Echo Frustration Over War in Iraq

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - While Staff Sgt. Randy Myers was dodging roadside bombs in Iraq, his congressman was calling the war a lost cause.

Sixteen-term Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran and military hawk, has become the face of the Democrats' anti-war movement since he called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops last fall. His oft-repeated criticism of the Bush administration's war policies also has earned him the wrath of Republicans.

In Murtha's southwest Pennsylvania district, however, many share the war critic's views.

At a welcome home ceremony this week for Myers and other troops from the Johnstown, Pa.-based 876th Engineer Battalion, the crowd cheered when a Murtha aide welcomed the troops on the congressman's behalf.

Myers said he backs Murtha, an opinion echoed by a number of other troops and their families. Several share his frustration with the conflict.

"I'm not sure we're doing a whole lot of good," Myers, 46, said of the U.S. presence in Iraq. "Everybody thinks we are. We're trying to, but we're not going to change what they want to do, and if they don't want to change, they're not gonna."

Said Sgt. 1st Class George Wozniak, 36, of Murtha: "He's definitely for a strong military and he definitely supports the troops."

Patriotism runs deep in Murtha's district in the Allegheny Mountains, where joining the military is a family tradition and often an economic necessity. Many served in Vietnam and that war exacted a heavy toll, with Allegheny County losing 421 men and Washington County, part of Murtha's district, losing 67. Memorials to those killed are scattered throughout the towns and cities of western Pennsylvania.

Not far from Johnstown was the setting for the Oscar-winning 1978 movie "The Deer Hunter," which explored the impact of Vietnam on the young men of an industrial town.

Doubts about Iraq have surfaced in the region. A Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday found that 25 percent in southwest Pennsylvania said all troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, while 38 percent in Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs said they should all be withdrawn.

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