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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid