Letter: Opposing noisy growlers is far cry from unpatriotic

Editor,

I am getting tired of those who are opposed to the Outlying Landing Field (OLF) referred to as unpatriotic, while those teary eyed supporters of the Navy, with one hand over their heart and the other in the tax payers’ pocket, call themselves patriots. In actuality, those who question the Navy are those with this county’s best interest at heart.

Please understand the view from an army Vietnam-era veteran. It was the Navy’s Gulf of Tonkin incident that was used as a pretense to escalate Vietnam. Vietnam was where 53,047 soldiers and Marines lost their lives, while 2,556 Navy personnel died. Remember the Maine?

It is now believed to have been sunk by an internal explosion, not Spanish mine or torpedo. In the Spanish American war, 3,163 soldiers lost their lives, and 97 sailors. The butchers’ bill in Korea was 33,686 combat deaths of which 475 were Navy. In his editorial Ryan Draeger states that the unpatriotic went to Canada, really? What would have happened if that conflict was not opposed? I suggest we would still be there as we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. What good has our military accomplished there? It was the patriots who did not go to Vietnam, particularly those who went to jail as a form of protest. What was the line he used in his editorial,“America never forgets.” Tell that to the mother of a son killed in Afghanistan. America forgot too quickly. Not only did we lose many brave young men needlessly, there were hundreds of thousands civilian casualties, of course some of them children. Thank goodness the war was protested. What did the Navy accomplish in that conflict? Vietnam is an example of what we want to avoid in Coupeville: blind patriotism that does more harm than good.

We all have heard the old adage for want of a nail the horse was lost .. . That rhyme should start, for want of a taxpayer dollar, the nail was lost. What we have is the Navy dictating to the civilians what the civilians should bear, not the civilians telling the Navy what it should do. The former is militarism which contributed to the eventual downfall of Japan in World War two.

There is no doubt that a great sacrifice was made by the Navy in World War II. However, the Navy was comprised of 383,150 personnel in 1942, by 1945 it had grown almost 10 times that to 3,405,525. It was not career military that bore the brunt of that war, it was civilian sailors that steered the Navy ships to victory.

What good are the billions spent on our military when the Russians have done an end around and possibly influenced our elections? The Russians seem to be gaining the upper hand without one of their ships in our waters. It is undeniable there are great sacrifices made by Naval personnel. There are also great sacrifices made by their spouses and children, a group we do not consider enough.

However, I do not have faith in the Navy’s judgment. The Navy and the United States Military does not have an embraceable track record. There are many alternatives to the OLF in Coupeville. The golf course at the Navy base should have a nice landing filed carved into it. Funny I did not play a lot of golf when I was in the Army. There is an abandoned Air Force base at Glasgow, Montana, a base with facilities and housing. The landing field is still there and there are no civilian communities nearby. What about the Air Force landing strips near Oak Harbor of which there must be many, or the USS Kitty Hawk now at Bremerton for more realistic training. Does it really seem like realistic training to train in the same place over and over? Is there not some variety in an actual war time situation?

To some freedom is a nice government check, to others it is freedom from hearing loss, toxic fumes, and, yes, preserving the property values one has worked a lifetime to attain. In his editorial, Ryan Draeger stated “enjoy the air show the vast majority stand with our pilots…”. He is, of course, right. With the number of Navy veterans, retires and active duty all with eyes on the Navy flag and their pensions and veterans benefits, not to mention the employees of the military aircraft industry, Coupeville will not win. However, unlike the USS Pueblo and the USS Liberty, we are not going down without a fight. The Navy will win, but the realization will come eventually to all, that the tax payer is not getting his money’s worth. Yes, the Navy will win the battle, but they will lose the war, but, then again, it’s been awhile since they’ve have won one. Isn’t it?

Terrence P. West

Coupeville

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