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Relief marks North Coast reaction to Iraq troop pullout

By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Jay Ottolini was glad to hear U.S. troops were pulling out of Iraq.

The retired Santa Rosa truck driver, whose younger brother Mike was killed by a roadside bomb in 2004, said the U.S. never should have been there in the first place.

“It’s been hard,” said Ottolini, who has a tattoo tribute to his brother on his left shoulder. “I hope they bring them all back.”

The casket bearing Michael C. Ottolini is carried at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park in Sebastopol in 2004. (PD File, 2004)

Military families and elected officials across the North Coast expressed relief at President Obama’s announcement Friday that all troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by year’s end.

Many with a politically liberal point of view had the same thought — that the departure was long overdue, especially since the conflict was declared over last year.

Others said they hoped the move would signal the end of involvement in Afghanistan.

A combined 15 North Coast service members have died in the two countries since 2002.

“It’s good news for anyone,” said Herb Williams of Santa Rosa, whose son Jesse was killed in Iraq in 2007. “I’m glad to see Obama kept his word.”

Linda Kynoch, the mother of Army Cpl. Joshua Kynoch, killed in Iraq in 2005, said she too was happy about the pullout.
Her 23-year-old son died about six months after the birth of his now 6-year-old daughter, also by a roadside bomb.

“I just wish it was over before he died,” Kynoch said. “I’m happy it’s ending but I’m sad it took so long.”

Still others worried about Middle East stability and the growing influence of Iran.

Steve Countouriotis, a Petaluma resident and former Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wondered if nationalist sentiment would dominate old religious loyalties.

“I think the military is capable of defending the country against threats,” he said. “The government is going to need some help. It is still somewhat weak.”

Regardless, North Coast Congress members said it was high time to get out of Iraq.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, an outspoken opponent of the war since the beginning, said Iraq would have to take care of itself now.

“It’s about damn time,” said the Petaluma Democrat, who made more than 400 House floor speeches calling for a withdrawal. “I am really pleased the president has made this happen. I hope it’s the beginning of the end for Afghanistan as well.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said it was “welcome news and shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

“Our redeployment should have happened a long time ago,” Thompson said.

He said he would push for an Afghan pullout as soon as possible.

Meawnhile, people across the North Coast were overjoyed.

“We think it’s great. We think it’s well overdue,” said Marilyn Buzzard of Ukiah. “Unfortunately, we lost our son in this war and there’s been over 4,000 boys that have been killed.”

Army Sgt. Jason Buzzard , 31, was killed June 21, 2006 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

His parents were not thrilled about their son joining the army. His dad tried to keep recruiters at bay when his son was in high school, but Jason was determined and joined later anyway.

Jason Buzzard loved being in the service, she said. He reupped twice, and shortly after the second, was killed.

“He knew his job was to protect the people of the United States and to give them the freedom we have today,” Marilyn Buzzard said.

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Ottolini of Santa Rosa was trucking hay with his brother after retiring from the California National Guard after 20 years.

But a year after he got out, Ottolini rejoined Petaluma-based A Company of the 579th Engineer Battalion.

“He was proud to be in the service,” his brother said.

On Nov. 10, 2004, Ottolini, 45, was killed by a bomb while departing A Company’s base at Camp Anaconda, 50 miles north of Baghdad, on a patrol.

He left behind a wife and two grown children.

“It’s hard when you lose a family member,” his brother said. “I guess it’s what you expect when someone goes off to war.”

People interviewed at a Petaluma shopping center all expressed support for the withdrawal.

“I’m sorry that so many Americans had to lose their lives before this happened,” said Cynthia Woods of Petaluma.

Will Robbins, also of Petaluma, said the motives for fighting were sound, but “it’s good to bring the troops home.”





6 Responses to “Relief marks North Coast reaction to Iraq troop pullout”

  1. Really Big Fish says:

    Obama who is using the military(our children) for his own political gain so he can be the world’s best known dictator needs to be replaced. He’s paving off Iraq officials, paying mercenaries, exposing our soldiers, speaking with a paying the Tailban and heroin suppliers in Afghanistan so he can look good for election. The military wants him out but can not say it publically. He is willing to risk having our children killed for his own selfish gain. Why are we in Uganda?

  2. Jim says:

    Whether announcing to the world (well, to Iran) that we’re pulling all our troops out of Iraq is a good thing or a bad thing is a separate debate.

    Fortunately for Obama, the majority of the Sheeple see the facade. I see the real world though. Let’s see…Awful economy, deficits that can’t be paid (but ever increasing), a complete failure regarding jobs, exponential increases in handouts creating millions of people dependent on the government (Democrat voters) and a quickly dropping approval rating. How could Obama possibly turn his crashing re-election campaign that he has been running for months now??

    I know, announce that he’ll pull the troops from Iraq. You know, the exact promise he made when he ran the first time but did NOTHING but continue the war, until “withdraw” was politically needed. So he plays his “withdraw the troops card” to get some of his base back and improve the polls. It is manipulation. Period.

    My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one fighting in the armed forces. It is sad that the Press democrat runs a story with quotes from grieving parents, when the real story is Obama’s political move.

    It is very sad that the Sheeple voters are so easily manipulated, and so blind to the facts. It is easy to see how this happens when the media is just a ‘re-elect Obama’ mouthpiece.

  3. Pearl Alquileres says:

    Sadam needed to go but at what cost? I think we paid far beyond “fair market value” for that deal!
    Bush could have done what Obama did with Libya, although neither will likely end well for us at least the cost of removing Gaddafi will have been far less.

    This is what happens when Congress transfers their Constitutional Power to another. Just like all the new “LAWS” (regulations) they allow their bureaucratic brethren to impose upon us.

  4. Kay Tokerud says:

    Gee, Obama is pulling the troops out just in time for his re-election bid. How many independent contractors (mercenaries) will still be there at twice the cost after the troops come home? And will the troops come home or just be moved into another country? Obama is no better than Bush when it comes to war-mongering. Will another Democrat please step up and run against Obama? Why not? I’m sick and tired of the glorification of murder when our leaders have determined them to be out of alignment with U.S.policies. When will the madness stop?

  5. truth in news says:

    We should be defending our own soil by putting these troops on the border. Perhaps an armed intervention to eliminate the threat from cartels would be in order as well.

  6. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Should have never happened.