Escalation weighs heavy on base neighbors
The president seeks 21,500 more troops in Iraq
The pianist was playing "Margaritaville" outside Muddy Waters Espresso in Kaneohe yesterday, but the only people inside enjoying the music were owner Julie Loo and another employee.
Loo speculated that the absence of her customers, who usually number 15 or so in the evening, was connected to President Bush's announcement that 21,500 more troops would be sent into Iraq.
"I've never seen it this quiet," she said.
In Loo's little coffee shop in Aikahi Park Shopping Center, where most of the customers are in the military, talk flows about topics from the war in Iraq to politics and religion. Several of the employees are spouses of Marines.
"We definitely have a split as to what should be done," she said.
Four years ago, when there was a heavy deployment of troops, Loo's business fell by 40 percent, she said. And Bush's plan to add more troops worries her.
"At the same time, we have close personal friends that we may not see again," she said.
She has developed relationships with her military customers, helping them celebrate holidays away from their family at her house, she said.
At the Regulation barbershop, some customers who are in the military were split on Bush's call for more troops, but declined to give their names because they said they had been told not to speak to the media.
But some still shared their views. A Marine lance corporal who just returned from Anbar province said, "You get stretched out there. A couple hundred guys would have made a huge difference. You cover more ground. Guys can't be setting ambushes."
Another recently returned Marine, who said he had helped to guard an oil field, said, "We send more troops, it's just more people dying. You send the whole U.S., you ain't going to win."
Cpl. Carlos Gonzalez of Headquarters Battalion at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii was sitting in the chair at the barbershop. He had been in Iraq three times and to Afghanistan once. He is studying to become a sergeant and said whether more people go or not, they have to go for the right reason, not just for the money.
"You see a lot of gruesome stuff. You just hold it in. You come back, you see your family. It's a relief," he said. "You'll see angels out there."
"They need to finish it. I'm not saying send more people or don't. It's going to make no point if we don't resolve it," he said, adding, "There's no point to this war."
Melissa Lee's husband, Allen, and younger brother are serving in the same Marine battalion in Iraq. She is counting the days to the halfway mark of her husband's return.
"I support my family, and I support what they do as a career," she said. "I support the idea if it's going to help the mission, then I support his decision of needing more troops. I tip my hat to all who serve."