War pains local residents

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— Martha Oman sent e-mail to the ombudsman of National Public Radio Sunday afternoon to ask for a break from the intensive war coverage.

As the mother of a U.S. Marine in the Persian Gulf, no one has more of a need for information about the status of the current conflict, but "there is only so much I can take," she said.

In the mind of Steamboat Springs resident Martha Fosdick, the heavy coverage of the war has at once reminded her that people die in war, but it also has numbed her to the reality of what she is seeing.

"It's almost an oxymoron," she said. "Seeing the reporters in their gasmasks showing us every fire should make it more real, but somehow it takes away the reality of it.

"It's like a made for TV drama."

For Oman, there is nothing more real than the news that at least five U.S. soldiers were captured Sunday in Southern Iraq. The soldiers are believed to be among the 12 who were confirmed missing Sunday. The others are feared dead.

That news was among the worst that came out as the war entered its fifth day. Other developments:

U.S. Marines defeated Iraqi forces near the southern city of An Nasiriyah in the sharpest engagement of the war so far, U.S. Central Command said in Qatar. Nine Marines died in the fighting.

A U.S. Patriot missile battery mistakenly shot down a British Royal Air Force fighter aircraft near the Iraqi border with Kuwait, killing both fliers on board.

A U.S. soldier was detained on suspicion of throwing grenades into three tents at a 101st Airborne command center in Kuwait, killing one fellow serviceman and wounding 15, at least three of them seriously. The motive in the attack "most likely was resentment," a U.S. Army spokesman said.

A British television news reporter who disappeared in southern Iraq was believed dead. ITN television news said its reporter Terry Lloyd and two colleagues apparently were caught in a barrage of "friendly fire" on Saturday.

Oman would like to be able to think about something else for a while. She hasn't heard from her son in over a week.

The last time he called, she said, he was on a boat off the coast of Iraq studying counterintelligence. During that phone call, her son admitted that on his way to Iraq, he was plagued with doubts about his reasons for going to war.

But on his way over, her son was given enough intelligence to convince him that he was doing the right thing. That was a relief to Oman, who also is struggling with the reasons for war.

"I'm torn," she said. "I don't think war is a good solution, but I see the injustice."

Many on Sunday afternoon shared Oman's feelings.

"I don't know why we are over there," Alisa Bonelli said. "I know from the news coverage that (Saddam Hussein) is a horrible person and that the people of Iraq seem happy that we are there. I'm for this war and against it at the same time."

Bonelli works behind the cash register at the Bamboo Market Health Food store. Almost every customer talks about the war with her, she said, and many of them feel the same way she does.

"There has to be something he's not telling us," she said. "I feel like I missed something. One minute I was watching troops in Afghanistan and I stopped watching for a minute and we are in Iraq."

Fosdick believes that her perspective of the war is colored by her age and her experiences during the Vietnam War.

Whether she agrees with the war in Iraq, she said, she feels it important to support the troops.

"I remember when the veterans came back from Vietnam and didn't receive support," she said. "It's been a lifelong challenge for them. For one friend, the posttraumatic stress syndrome cost him his career. "I'm real sensitive that we should support those people who are willing to die for our country."

Fosdick's daughter, Amanda Anzalone, works at Soda Creek Elementary School and has watched children trying to process their own contradictory feelings about the war.

"I spent the other day with these two fifth graders," she said. "The girls just wanted to talk about it.

"They are really confused about the relationship between Sept. 11 and now. I'm still not sure what I'm allowed to say because it's all so new, so I just let them talk. As adults, it's hard to talk about it... How do we help children understand when we can't make sense of it ourselves?"


--To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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