Sunday, Sept 9
|Tuesday, September 11
These spell out the emotions that erupted on Tuesday at the 26th annual DESA convention in Omaha. The terrorist attack on the U.S. was the focus of attention and overshadowed the days activities, but did not disrupt these activities. The days scheduled events went on, but attendance was well below that anticipated. The lobby was jammed as people crowded around the television listening to minute-to-minute coverage. Emotions ran high and it was not unusual to hear "nuke 'em"..., "blast 'em back to the stone age." However, as anger subsided, there were many questions about airport security, US intelligence gathering capability, the way the Nation deals with allies and enemies.
One unifying theme did prevail; trade sanctions do not work. Also, that there is no concern for human life and we must realize that some other Nations believe life is cheap and will sacrifice anything or anyone to further their fanatical religious and political beliefs.
DESA was one of the first Veterans organizations sought out by the local media who interviewed members for television broadcast and the local newspaper. President Tom Kidd, USS Willett DE-354, was interviewed by Channel 7, ABC network, explaining his personal feelings and contrasting this tragedy with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. This opportunity also provided him the chance to explain the roll DEs played in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. Also interviewed was C. M. (Doc) Hine, USS Whitman DE-24, who provided a graphic description of his saga as a Pearl Harbor survivor. Hine was a pharmacist mate and ambulance driver in 1941 and witnessed the devastation first hand. He likened todays tragedy to this devastation.
Amid the tragedy of the day, one DESA member received good news. Martin Dowd, USS Otterstetter DE-244, received a telephone call informing him that his daughter's husband, who worked near the World Trade Center buildings, escaped unharmed. The son-in-law not only was unscathed, but he led a small group from the office, down to the Hudson River and assisted them to board a boat headed to refuge in New Jersey. Still emotionally enveloped in the event, Dowd was in the minority of those expressing options when he said he preferred to take a wait and see attitude before reacting to the terrorist attack.
However, a great majority was in the "nuke 'em"... "blast 'em back to the stone age..." camp.
Members were verbal in their opinions:
"I was shocked. This should be an eye-opener to President Bush. We must beef up financing for our military. All terrorist groups should be destroyed." John Mitchell, USS Brister DER-327
"This is worse than Pearl Harbor. Innocent people, not military people were killed. We have to retaliate. I say A-bomb 'em." Joe Carinci, USS Hissem DE-400
"The President's father, George, should have bombed them into oblivion 8 years ago when he had a chance. He was too soft. I'm upset and can't say any more." Gladys
"I am totally upset and can't believe this. Sanctions just don't work. We must realize that. You are facing a war, fight it, settle it." Ron Grizzle, USS Lewis DE-535. He expressed his thoughts as part of the Lewis contingent that was holding a ship's reunion at the time. Other members expressed similar opinions.
A more calming voice was spoken from DESA National Representative John Cosgrove, USS Gendreau DE-639. His reaction was to first determine who is responsible for these acts and then take appropriate action. He expressed concern about the quality of U.S. intelligence gathering.
As the day wore on the emotions continued and the reality of the situation further set in. This reality continues to dampen the convention festivities.
The faces of those attending the convention clearly reveal the silent prayers for our nation.
The Chapter Meeting, First-Timer's Orientation, Ladies Buffalo Gals Luncheon, Membership Recruiting Opportunities meeting, USS Slater Seminar and the Old Fashion Barn Dance were held as scheduled.
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