News / USA

    Watertown, New York Welcomes Troop Withdrawal Announcement

    Statues on Watertown, New York's town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past
    Statues on Watertown, New York's town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past

    Multimedia

    Jeff Swicord

    As President Obama announces his plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, military communities around the country welcome the news.  Watertown, New York, is near Fort Drum, home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, which has been in constant deployment during the past decade. 

    The walls of the American Legion Hall in Watertown, New York, are adorned with photographs of local men and women who have served their country during war.  Many paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    Phil Gary served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.  He said he is in favor of President Obama's plan to start withdrawing thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.  Many of those troops are from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, stationed nearby at Fort Drum.

    “No matter what time in the world it is or what year in the world it is, there is always going to be a conflict," Gary said.  "I believe they are always going to ask for help, along with the United Nations and other countries so, are you asking me if I agree with it?  Yes, because I believe in our president and he directed it.”

    That sense of duty is not uncommon in this part of the country.  Watertown is a small industrial city along the Black River, where conservative values run strong, and there is a long history of military service.  Statues on the town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past.  

    That tradition has been shouldered by the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division.  Many live in Watertown.  They were among the first units to go to Afghanistan.  Some soldiers have served  three deployments in the past decade.  Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Graham says both the Afghan and Iraq wars have been hard on the community.

    “I think that most people, not just Watertown because we have a military presence here, but most people in this country are really getting fatigued by these constant wars," he said.  "It is perpetual war.  And the casualties, the expense, the deployments.  I think people would just like to see an end to it.”

    Michael Oquendo, Adonis Frias Rodriquez, and Lewis Paulino are active duty Fort Drum soldiers, who live in a small community just outside the base.  They returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan two months ago.  They hold different views on the troop pullout, but they say that is not uncommon within the military.  Michael Oquendo says the pullout is a bad idea.

    “At some point I think we should stay, because we have achieved a lot," he said.  "And by us pulling out right now like that, and leaving everything like it is.  It is not a good idea because the U.S. is making stuff happen there.  Connecting the villages, connecting everything together.  Making the country come together.”

    Lewis Paulino disagrees.  He says the United States has too many problems at home.

    “We have got so many problems here,." he said.  "I think it is more important than take care of problems from another country ... here we have got a lot of stuff to do.”

    But all three young soldiers say that if called upon, they would deploy again.  Because that is what soldiers do, they say, serve with honor.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.