Invasion engages valley residents |

Invasion engages valley residents

Matt Zalaznick, Chris Freud and Veronica Whitney

Residents drinking and eating at West Vail’s Half Moon Saloon – even those with relatives and friends in the military – expressed neither solid support nor clear opposition for the Bush Administration’s campaign to drive Saddam Hussein from Baghdad.”The soldiers are doing their jobs,” said Courtney Broadworth, an Eagle-Vail resident whose husband is a military policeman in the National Guard with many friends in the U.S. Marines. “They spend their lives training for the honor to defend their country. But is this defending their country?”Broadworth said her husband, a former gunner who is now a military policeman, is probably not in immediate peril in the war, but she feared for her friends.”They’re grunts; they’re going to be on the front line,” she said.”Short and sweet’She also said she was uncomfortable about some of the apparent motives of the war, but was confident the U.S. military would score a quick victory.”Part of it is about oil and if our president is that greedy, we have problems,” she said. “But this is going to be short and sweet and we’re going to do what we have to do.”Keena Kalinowski of East Vail said she was a bit frightened by Wednesday’s events, but agreed with many who believe Hussein is a serious threat to the U.S. and the world.”He’s an awful, awful man,” she said. “But I’m a little worried about the economy. It’s already bad and it might get a little worse – gas prices, tourism, our jobs. It’s scary, so let’s hope it’s short and sweet.”Despite widespread ambivalence, a few residents had little doubt about their views on a second Gulf War. Some, like Ellie Lindtvit of Vail, directed scorn and suspicion at President Bush.”They’re trying to find Osama and they haven’t. Daddy got (President Bush) a cool job and now he’s trying to finish off Daddy’s arch enemy,” she said. “The President wasn’t elected by the citizens and now we’re in a war many citizens don’t want to be in. So it’s obvious we have no control.””I don’t think it’s worth people dying,” said Mitch Pickens of Vail. “I don’t want to see Americans dying and I don’t want to see Iraqis dying.”But Vail resident Dave Goodsell said the U.S. military is about to do a job the Iraqi people should have done many years ago.”Let’s get in there, get it done and get it over with,” Goodsell said. “The bottom line is: Better them than us.””Unfortunate situation’Several residents, like Tom Robbins, said they feared a link between Hussein and terrorists dead-set on attacking the U.S.”I think it’s an unfortunate situation,” said Robbins, who lives in Vail. “In some ways it’s a relief that that it has finally started, but I have mixed emotions because I’m not 100 percent sure we should be there.”Robbins said the Bush Administration was hoping to clear up the country’s unfinished business in Iraq.”George W. is mopping Dad’s and Clinton’s leftover mess,” he said.The invasion may be the next stage in what will be a long, complicated war on terror, Robbins added.”When you’ve got a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, you’ve got to put two pieces together to start,” Robbins said. “You’ve got to start somewhere with something so encompassing as the war on terror – Iraq is as good a place as any.”Stanton Morris, who lives in Vail, said he sees a connection between terrorism and the Iraqi regime. He saw the specter of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon looming over the invasion of Iraq, he said.”I wouldn’t want another 9/11 happening. In the same sense, what we’re creating is the Iraqis’ 9/11,” Morris said. “I hope this is as easy and quick as the last war in Iraq.”Morris said Hussein is not just a threat to the U.S.”We’re not just protecting ourselves,” Morris said. “But I wish we didn’t have to destroy the homes of innocent people to remove one man.”Jaya Lange, a Leadville resident, said he supported the U.S. defending itself against any threats, but was uncertain about the war on Iraq.”I’m for standing up for ourselves, but I’m not for the arrogance of our country,” Lange said. “I don’t see anybody attacking us. Why are we attacking their country?””Get on with it’At Paddy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Eagle-Vail, Scott Scanabino of Leadville said he believes the conflict in Iraq is going to be a long one.”I’m kind of for it,” he said. “They need to get on with it if they’re going to do it.”Eric Nelson of Eagle-Vail said he believes President Bush is doing the right thing.”Absolutely,” Nelson said. “I thought (Bush) said as much as he needed to say and as much as he could say at this time. But I’m happy he said something at least.”Dave Achelpohl, also of Eagle-Vail, said attacking Hussein directly is appropriate.”If they had any idea where he actually was at that time, I would hope that they would zero in on him and take it out,” Achelpohl said. “If this thing goes quickly, it’s going to be a boon, a benefit.”Airport quiet on night of air strikesJust an hour after the United States launched strikes against Iraq, things appeared quiet at the Eagle County Regional Airport.Half a dozen airport personnel waited for the last flight of the day, an American Airlines flight arriving at 10 p.m. from Los Angeles.A day after Operation Liberty Shield was launched across the country to protect against possible terrorist retaliations, airport employees said it had been a very busy day at the Eagle County airport.”We didn’t see any decrease in passenger traffic,” said Ron Foss, an American Airlines employee at the county airport. “All three flights after 4 p.m. were full.”On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security raised the terror alert to orange, indicating the second highest risk of terrorist attacks.Tuesday, hours before the deadline set by President Bush, the Transportation Security Administration started conducting random vehicle inspections and beefing up security at the airport. More security along the curbs when loading and unloading passengers and more perimeter checks are also expected as a result of the orange alert, said Eagle County Regional Airport Director Mark Davidson.A car rentals employee at the airport Wednesday said security personnel left at 5 p.m., after the last outbound flight took off.”I thought it would be another day or so before the attack started,” Ron Foss said.John Cortes, another American Airlines employee, said he was surprised the bombing started with only a few selects targets.”I’m glad it started and I hope we’ll get over with it,” he said. “I think this looming war was holding the economy, and the stock markets.”Mauro Petruccelli, a 23-year-old Argentinean who works with Colorado Mountain Express at the airport waited calmly for the flight from Los Angeles to arrive.”I’m not shock that the war started,” he said. “I was expecting it.”

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