LIMA — Area veterans had a consistent message to send to other Americans and elected leaders across the U.S. in light of the recent shooting deaths at two military centers in Tennessee.
Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, reportedly killed four Marines and injured three other people on Thursday before he died in a shootout with police in Chattanooga. If policies are not corrected, many believe we can expect more of the same.
Army veteran Sean Conover, a native of St. Marys, has also served as a U.S. Department of Defense contractor in the Middle East. He spent a lot of time protecting foreign dignitaries. He also trained Afghan security forces for military and law enforcement. He says the threat is real, and soldiers need to be armed.
“It needs to be realized that this is not a new problem,” Conover said. “We saw this coming 13 years ago.”
Conover said that in Muslim culture, they are expected to have “no love for Christians.” He said that this event, coupled with the recent negotiations with Iran over its nuclear abilities, should be enough to raise eyebrows.
“This was just an extension of 9/11,” Conover said. “If people don’t believe that, they are fooling themselves.”
Conover said they are taught it is OK to lie to people who are considered infidels, and that they can never be trusted.
“If people can sneak a donkey full of drugs across the border, they can sneak a suitcase across,” Conover said. “We are never going to see it because the borders are too loose. We shouldn’t be cowering. We should be armed, that is what the military is trained to do.”
Retired Lt. Col. Tim Koenig, a graduate of Elida, said the event is tragedy, and something needed to be done.
“Its tough to figure out,” Koenig said of forces being unarmed. “How does this happen to people protecting our way of life. You wonder what can be done.”
Jerry Rupert is a retired Marine and took offense to the shooting. He said Americans should be in an uproar.
“It is preposterous that our Marines are sitting ducks,” Rupert said. “They are prohibited by military orders and federal facility regulations from protecting themselves. The outrage of the American people, who were likely ignorant to this reality, should be deafening. “This is a huge failing on the part of the military and civilian leadership, going to the very office of the commander in chief.
Rupert also commented on the stance of many that this was not a “terrorist attack.”
“It is incomprehensible that the president issues a Kumbaya message to our very attackers at the end of their Ramadan period just hours following an attack on our soil, on our Marines,” Rupert said. “He intentionally omits any reference to the identity of the attacker and that it was obviously a terrorist attack.”
Mark Foor, of Waynesfield, also took offense to leadership action on the matter as a veteran.
“The high ideals and willingness of Marines to lay down their lives must be matched with the worthiness of their commander in chief,” Foor said. “Policies sending them in harm’s way without adequate protection and the honor they deserve is a betrayal that history will witness as the death of this republic. Beware of the politician who sells out cheap the life of mighty men of valor.”
Chris Zimmerman, of Waynesfield, is the father of Staff Sgt. Sonny C. Zimmerman, who died July 16, 2013, in Mushaka, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade while he was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He said it was sad and unfortunate that our finest have been targeted in such a manner.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victims,” he said. “The men and women who protect us, deserve our best efforts to protect them or enable them to protect themselves on domestic soil.”
Arlan Makely, of St. Marys, served in the U.S. Army. He said soldiers are trained and should be allowed to be armed in almost any situation.
“When I was in the service, we had a weapon on us to intimidate,” Makely said. “Even if we didn’t have live ammo. They should be able to protect themselves and not be made to stand there like a tree. The president needs to pull his nose out of the book he is trying to write and worry about the country.”
Joseph Carroll, an Army veteran, said the answer is simple.
“Soldiers are not allowed to carry weapons on bases or other military and government locations,” he said. “They are easy targets. Allow trained military to carry weapons, and these things will cease rather quickly.”
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