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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Veterans vocal on current war talk

Thursday, March 20, 2003

SIKESTON -- The conversation started a little something like this:

"It's a shame a bunch of old codgers like you and you and you are sitting over here and all them young fellas and gals are all over there," said 80-year-old Korean War veteran Lloyd Evans to three of his veteran buddies.

"Well, we did it when we was young," replied Tony Barborek, a veteran of the Korean War.

"Well, I know, but we're older now and we know more about how to do it over there," Evans insisted.

"Yeah, sure," Barborek said doubtingly.

Hours before war officially began Wednesday the local war veterans discussed several issues many Americans across the nation are pondering.

Just about every day a group of about six or seven war veterans meet at the VFW Post 3174 in Sikeston to discuss current happenings. Wednesday wasn't an exception and the obvious topic weighing on their minds was war.

"There's no comparison between war today and war years ago because there's so much technology right now. You could sit right here and pull the trigger and bomb Kuwait. Back then, we had to fly over them and hit them," said Evans.

Today the military can load one plane with a bomb here and send him all the way to Iraq and back. He'd have to refuel but they've got that tank over there for fuel, he explained.

When they ran out of fuel, they were out, Evans said. They'd have to ditch the plane. Everything is different today, he said.

"Technology is the big thing," said David Cartner, who served in the Vietnam era. We don't know what a smart bomb is. They talk it about it all the time and we don't have any idea what it is."

People are still rely on their training and to use their initiative, but now they have GPS locators and instant communications, Cartner said. Commanders have maps that show exact position of their units on the field, he explained.

Cartner said it's about time the war started.

"I think we've given diplomacy every effort possible and then some," Cartner said. "They knew the diplomacy was gonna fail when they started. This is something that's been 12 years in the making."

While they debated on whether it would be a week or a month, the consensus among the veterans was this war would be over soon.

There won't be anymore three and four year wars, Evans said. He said he thinks the main initiative is to get Saddam Hussein and kill him right off and show the whole world that he's gone. Then, he said, it should be over with.

"It won't last long. I think it will be very similar to the six-day Israel War. They'll get to Baghdad quick. When they get to Baghdad, the question is are the Iraqis going to lay down their weapons and quit or are they going to fight?" Cartner predicted Wednesday.

The veterans also expressed their concern for an increase in public knowledge of the war.

Americans have it so much better than other countries that many take a lot of their freedoms for granted, Cartner lamented. A lot of people don't know what's going on and don't care . . . until it affects the way they live day to day, he opined.

"I think it started in Vietnam. People watched the war on the evening news. It was something else to watch and it became entertainment for them. And it's gotten to be the same now as it was then," Cartner noted, adding that sometimes what viewers see on TV isn't accurate of the war.

Another concern on the minds of all Americans is chemical and biological warfare.

"That's what worries me is biological weapons. They could have them placed all over this country," Barborek said.

Cartner doesn't think area residents should worry about local terrorist attacks. It's the bigger landmarks in the nation that are more likely terrorist targets, he said.

In spite of people's politics -- whether Americans agree we need to be in the war or disagree -- we need to support our troops, Cartner said.

And one thing that hasn't changed is the feeling a soldier gets during war.

"You're always scared," Cartner said. "People are always scared, but it's just something you deal with."

Sure they're scared, Barborek agreed. They don't know what's going to happen, he added.

"But you do what you gotta do in spite of it," Cartner said. "The best feeling in the world is knowing some ugly SOB shot at you and missed."