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The View From My Recliner

Discussion is a good thing between two parties who have knowledge on a subject.
When it comes to discussing Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is tough to find people with the knowledge of the subject.
The television and media access to this combat mission has been amazing. You have been able to turn your television and watch live fire fights. Even our own Kerry Webster, who is not a big fan of war, was glued to his television watching a fire fight over the weekend. He said: “I just couldn’t turn it off.”
Every now and then, you get people who read about wars and think they are subject matter experts. They call for the heads of generals because things aren’t moving as fast as they think they should. The question for those people is have you ever put on a chemical suit? Have you ever carried a full ruck sack of equipment for over five miles, let alone 50 miles? I bet not.
President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks all have said that this will take longer and be tougher than some “so called” experts have predicted. As General Myers said in the first Pentagon briefing: “There is nothing easy about combat.”
The Iraqi Repbulican Guard is fighting this time. The are dressing as civilians and shooting our troops from behind. That is a part of war. There are ground rules to war, but in every conflict, someone breaks them.
The Iraqis have paraded prisoners of war on television. They have shown dead American soldiers. That is a war crime.
I am not an expert on war tactics. I followed orders that were given to me and came home in one piece. I pray that as many troops as possible come home safe as well.
There are a few things to remember in combat.
First, everything you expect to happen, won’t.
Second, there is nothing easy when someone is trying to defend what they believe in.
Third, this isn’t the first Gulf War. There wasn’t six weeks of bombing before the ground offensive started. There won’t be mass surrenders. Most of those people surrendered 12 years ago.
Rush Limbaugh said this when President Clinton was talking about allowing homosexuals in the military.
“The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.”
War is ugly. People die in combat. The best we can do is pray for their safety and the ability of those in power to lead in the best way possible.
Technology can help win a battle, but to gain ground and capture what you hope to accomplish, soldiers have to go hand to hand. One to one.
It’s sad that war has to happen. It is sad that there will be soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins.
I leave this message. For the people who feel the need to protest, remember the people who are fighting right now, defend your right to protest. For the arm chair generals, take a back pack this weekend, put on three layers of clothing and go for a 50 mile hike and see if you can make it. I bet not.
Our soldiers are in my prayers and keep reading The Daily Herald for the latest information.

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The View From My Recliner

There are many schools of thought when it comes to how the possibility of war with Iraq has any meaning here in Northern Blair County.
Some think it has no effect because Iraq is half way around the world. Some worry daily because they have loved ones serving their country in the military.
The effect is mind boggling.
The possibility of war has raised gas prices to record highs and heating oil rates have risen during one of the coldest winters on record.
The threat of war has taken a huge chunk out of the stock market, hurting many retirement funds.
There are 230,000 United States troops just waiting for the orders to move forward. One of those soldiers is Bob Mertiff Jr., a combat medic serving with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, but is now somewhere in the Arabian peninsula. Mertiff is a Tyrone High School graduate and was the quarterback of Tyrone’s first District VI Championship football team.
What he faces in the near future is tougher than any defense he ever faced on the gridiron.
While Americans are worried about higher unemployment, a sagging economy and making ends meet, 230,000 of our fellow citizens are worried about making it home… alive.
It was just over 12 years ago that I was in the same shoes that our forces are in now. I was fortunate enough to come home alive. That couldn’t be said for the members of the 14th Quartermaster Company. Their staging barracks, was hit by a scud missile, killing 28 and injuring 100 soldiers. One of those killed in the Scud attack was Dwayne Hollen who was 24 and a 1985 graduate of Bellwood-Antis High School.
Because of the buildup in Iraq, more National Guard troops are being called to serve as peace keepers in other parts of the world.
Recently, 50 National Guard soldiers based in Tyrone were called to duty to serve as peacekeepers in Kosovo.
Every soldier has a story to tell. While preparing for his deployment, Scott Sessaman of Vail lost his home and belongings in a fire. The community rallied to help his family before he deployed.
Steve Johnson and Josh Lucas were big contributors to the 1999 State Championship football team. Anthony Stever was part of the 2000 District VI Champion basketball team.
They are all teammates at Fort Stewart, Ga. as they prepare with Sessaman and many others for their duty in Kosovo.
Just look next door in the windows of Columbia Ancillary Services to see many Tyrone residents who have either served their country proudly, or are currently serving.
The pride of local residents is evident. More and more American flags are showing up all over Northern Blair County.
It was 15 years ago Sunday that Saddam Hussein ordered the chemical attack on Kurdish rebels that left more than 5,000 dead.
For those who ask for proof about weapons of mass destruction, ask any of the Kurdish survivors what a chemical attack can do to you.
Last night President Bush gave Saddam and his sons 48 hours to get out of Iraq. The deadline for that is 4 a.m. Thursday, in Iraq.
The troops are well trained and well equiped. May God bless all that will be in harms way and may they all come home safely to their families and friends at home.

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The View From My Recliner

What a zoo it was yesterday afternoon at the Tyrone High School.
In the area surrounding the gymnasium, you had the boys’ and girls’ track teams trying to warm up and get some work in, the girls’ softball team trying to get some conditioning in, the baseball team trying to get some throwing in, the junior high track team going through its workouts and nearly 50 girls who are trying out for cheerleading. They were swarming like bees, but somehow the organized chaos worked.
It seems like TEAM TYRONE has fizzled out.
According to council member Jim Beckwith, the incumbant council members Jeffrey Watson, Sharon Dannaway and Jennifer Bryan will be running for their seats. As of now, Dannaway and Bryan will be challenged on the Democratic ticket by Dan Meckes and Ralph Thomas. Beckwith and Watson will be joined on the Rebublican ticket only by Bill Fink.
My opinion is if you don’t want to stand up and make a difference, you have very little right to complain. Many have complained about different things the borough council does, but when it comes time to stand up and make your ideas count, everyone backs away.
You had your chance to stand up and make a difference. When things don’t go the way you envision, remember you had your chance to be the person making the decisions.
Many veterans fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today. The right to speak freely, the right to vote and the right to public debate. It seems like the people of Tyrone have no use for these freedoms.
When I was serving in Operation Desert Storm, we used to have SCUD pools, guessing when the next SCUD alert would occur. My pick for the invasion of Iraq pool is April 1. This is going against my better judgement, but the numbers make sense. It will take two weeks to get our troops in place in Turkey for the invasion in Northern Iraq. The United States military likes to fight at night and the best time to do that is with a new moon. The next new moon is set for April 1.
I wonder if Dover Air Force Base has more things to do since I was there in 1991? I might find out soon, so keep reading this column for more details.
Congratulations to Tyrone coach Jim Swaney who was selected to coach in the Summit Quest All-Star game that takes place at Chestnut Ridge High School. Swaney has been the Lady Eagles boss for 15 years. He will be joined at the game by Lady Eagle seniors Marie DelBaggio and Jo Turner.
Today’s the day. Do we have a new resident of the Tyrone School District? I bet not. To find out why, ask the Tyrone YMCA Board of Directors. I guess being a part of Tyrone isn’t an important part of the job, but the money from Tyrone spends great in Bellefonte.
The Blair County Commissoners race should be interesting. Barry Wright turned in his petition with 1,800 signatures yesterday. He only needed 100. To make that kind of effort…to get someone to sign their name…imagine the effort in the campaign.
Enjoy the rest of your week, and be careful this weekend. Rumor has high tempatures in the 50s. Remember to use sunblock during the two days of summer, that will happen this weekend.

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The View From My Recliner

Let me start off on a sad note. David Cupp passed away on Sunday evening at the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home. I always knew him as “Mugsy” and everyone else called him “Cuppy.”
He was, as long as I can remember, the coach of the Tigers in the Tyrone Minor League. I played on the Cards. They were always fun team to play against. Whether he won or lost, Cuppy always took care of his players and showed them the fun of baseball.
One time, we were playing the Tigers and Barb Miller hit a ball that cleared the Shea Field left field fence, and now that it is 26-years later, I can say it was a fair ball. Thankfully, the home plate umpire saw it differently. He called it foul. The next pitch, I drilled Barb. There was no way I was giving up a homer to a girl. I did the same thing that year to Lisa Conner.
Cuppy gets up in the dugout and yells, I know what that is all about Harlow, and left it at that. Barb laughed at me at first base, and my coach came to the mound. My coach was Barb’s dad Tom Miller. That tells you how much respect Barb had for Cuppy, that she didn’t play for her Dad. Tom came to the mound and told me that I can see you hitting the batter after getting drilled like that, but next time, throw a curve ball.
There could have been fireworks after the game, but there wasn’t. Cuppy just laughed when he shook my hand.
Cuppy will be missed by many people who played for him as kids in the Tyrone Minor League and many that played against him.
One week from today, there should be a new resident of the Tyrone School District if the YMCA Board of Directors follows through on what was agreed to when the director was hired. Let’s see if it happens.
Congratulations to Chris Lash for becoming the topic of discussion for 15 minutes at Tyrone Borough Council last night.
Good Luck to the Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils as they play Farrell this Saturday afternoon.
Enjoy your week, and we’ll talk Tuesday.