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Tuesday, March 25, 2003



[ WAR IN IRAQ ]



Hawaii troop supporters
combat anti-war sentiment
with a rally of their own



By Leila Fujimori
lfujimori@starbulletin.com

Tiara Enocencio-Zimmerman set out on a mission three weeks ago.

She was organizing a pro-troops rally where anyone could show support for U.S. forces deployed to the Middle East.

In Kim Katjang she found a kindred spirit.

Together they have passed out fliers, canvassed military bases and put out radio and TV public service announcements about the rally set for Saturday. The event will be held in front of the Hawai'i Convention Center and the state Capitol simultaneously from noon to 3 p.m.

Enocencio-Zimmerman said she has received tremendous support for the rally and expects more than 2,000 participants, including veterans, active-duty personnel, military dependents, "even people against the war but who support the troops."

Motorcycle groups and Corvette organizations plan to parade in front of both locations, she said.

"We understand there's people who do not support the war but who support the troops," Enocencio-Zimmerman said. "Whether you're for or against the war, the troops should be the No. 1 priority."

"There's just so much anti-war protest, we're not getting coverage on people who are wanting to support our troops," Enocencio-Zimmerman said.

Katjang said: "We feel so helpless in that there's really nothing we can do to show that there's so many people who are supporting the troops that we just had to put something together to show that they are loved. There's so many people that are behind them 110 percent."

While getting the word out, Enocencio-Zimmerman and Katjang learned they have a lot in common.

They work next door to one another at Tripler Army Medical Center, Katjang a medical records clerk, and Enocencio-Zimmerman an audio-visual technician.

Both were military brats, and each has a sister in the military. Both attend college and want to join the Air Force.

"If my country needs me, I'm going out there," said Enocencio-Zimmerman, 21. "God bless America. That's how I feel."

Katjang, 26, is a former soldier who served as the administrative assistant to Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Enocencio-Zimmerman is married to a Kaneohe Marine.

Her husband, Marine Cpl. Nathan Zimmerman, 24, was deployed Feb. 10 to Kuwait. They were married in July.

She is hoping "the troops see that they are getting support from family, friends and military personnel."

"We need to keep the morale high for our troops," Enocencio-Zimmerman said.

She said it is her responsibility as a military wife and an American citizen to support the troops.

She worries her husband may be overworked since he is the only heavy-equipment operator in his unit.

They had one two-minute phone call after he arrived in Kuwait.

"He told me that he misses me and he's very tired and they're working very hard ... that he loves me," she said.

Enocencio-Zimmerman said she wakes up at 4 a.m. to watch the news.

But after learning of the American troops who were taken prisoner, she worried for her husband's safety.

She has also seen recent broadcasts of 1996 interviews of POWs from the first Gulf War in which they were dragged and beaten.

"Just worrying if he comes back home, just seeing what he's seeing there, it can lead to post-traumatic stress," she said.

Katjang said, "It's not about the war, really, but it's about family out there because Hawaii is such a military state, everybody knows somebody, a friend, a relative, a neighbor that is in the military."

"It's about their human lives they are putting on the line for us."



Hawaii military links and information



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