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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Hawai'i riveted by nonstop war coverage

 •  American troops battle elite Iraqi guard soldiers
 •  Much rides on battle in Iraq's Euphrates Valley
 •  Apaches come under heavy fire
 •  Graphic (opens in new window): Iraqi resistance slows coalition advance

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Staff Writer

With 24-hour news coverage from the front lines of the war in Iraq, the public has an unprecedented and intimate look at military operations.

John Tamboa, right, and his uncle, Francis Tamboa, watch the latest developments on the war in Iraq at CompUSA in Kaka'ako. Many in Hawai'i are riveted by the 24-hour news coverage of the war.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

But with "shock and awe" also comes coverage of the realities of war: the prisoners of war, the casualties, the protests and the resistance of Iraqi troops, all beaming endlessly into living rooms around the state and the world.

Many Hawai'i residents — some supportive, some critical and others resigned to war — seem to be united in one thing: They are glued to their TVs, trying to keep up with the minute-to-minute changes.

Jane Brown is consumed by dread. She has the television on 14 hours a day to an all-news channel. Each morning, she's out of bed, booting up her computer to read online newspapers.

"I can't turn it off," Brown said. "I'm worried that something really horrible will happen. I think as everyone gets closer and closer to Baghdad, Saddam Hussein will drop some biological stuff. I'm just dreading it."

The 51-year-old Brown, who lives and works from her Hawai'i Kai home, said she supports the reason we're at war, despite the spate of casualties and images of American POWs. "I think it's a tough thing to go to war, but we didn't have any other choice. We have to stop him."

Charlette Duyao, who sold flowers yesterday at a stand at the Hilo Farmer's Market on the Big Island, said her family gathers to stare at the TV for hours, watching images of jet and missile launches and using newspaper maps to track the invasion.

The whole family supports the war, she said, but her elders are worried about how the fighting might affect them. Duyao, 14, said one of her uncles insisted the family stock up on canned goods and rice. Her grandmother had planned to visit family in the Philippines, but put off all of the plans.

Ray Nosaka, 86, was a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion during World War II. He fought in North Africa, Italy and Germany and watches the war in Iraq on television for several hours a day.

"I'm watching right now. I watch all the time," Nosaka said. "It's curiosity. I hope we win the war. ... I don't like war, but since we are in it, I'd like to win."

Walton Alcos, a Hilo bakery owner, said he supports the war, but said it is beginning to hurt people economically and making them more cautious about their spending. He said he hopes for a quick end to the fighting, and he was unsettled by the American deaths in Iraq last weekend.

"It did change my attitude compared to the first war there," he said. "We didn't realize that the casualties were going to be this heavy, as much as what they are."

Vietnam veteran Norbert K. Enos Sr., state quartermaster for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he has paced his news viewing.

"I get stressed out," he said. "All veterans have their own feelings based on what they experienced. I spent two tours in Vietnam, and I wasn't pushing paper."

Watching the anti-war demonstrations also brings back memories of the Vietnam-era protests for Enos. He said he is concerned that troops here and overseas will become discouraged by the protests.

"We weren't welcomed at all when we returned. It was a very unpopular war and we don't need that again," Enos said. "You've got to show some kind of loyalty. We need to show support for the families back here and for the people serving."

The television is like a lifeline for Steve Carr, keeping him informed of the events of the war. The Hawai'i Kai resident believes the country had no other choice but to be in Iraq.

"The casualties are mounting the closer we get to Baghdad," the 51-year-old cable technician said. "But we need to strike hard and fast and hit it hard, pack up and get out. We can't afford to soften our stance."

However, Art Mori, a retired Chaminade University chemistry professor, believes war can never be justified. Mori said he tries to avoid watching television now. Having been in the military, he knows that the war could drag on and casualties could continue to climb.

"I understand that there is a danger that exists with Iraq and its leader," Mori said. "But there is danger coming from many other places in the world today. It very much depresses me."

Some people are turning to comfort food as a means of coping with the increased anxiety around the war, according to Katie Choi of Hawai'i Kai, a Weight Watchers leader who has about 80 members in five groups on O'ahu.

"Chips, macaroni and cheese — and saimin, chicken katsu and mochi for local folks," said Choi, who said about 10 percent of her members reported increased craving for such foods since the war began.

Karl Gottling, owner of a Wailuku, Maui, antique shop, said he could allow the war to dominate his life, but he refuses to let that happen because he has to carry on with his business.

"My biggest worry is what Saddam is going to do when he feels like he's not going to win," Gottling said. "He's not a stable person, and I don't think he's going down without a fight."

Rich Richardson, assistant director of The ARTS at Marks Garage, also limits his television time. He follows the war closely, using the Internet as an alternative source of information.

"I'm afraid that too much (TV) might be dangerous for my mental health," Richardson said. "In the long run, it causes a climate of fear."

Terri Cambra of Kihei, Maui, said the country went into war too overconfident. Despite the casualties and setbacks, she maintains her belief that the regime must fall.

"War is war, and the consequences are inevitable," she said. "But I'm confident things will be taken care of."

Cambra said she keeps abreast of the war, but her husband is obsessed. When he comes home, CNN, Fox and MSNBC are on.

"I had to take the remote from him so I could turn on the Kamehameha Schools song contest," she said. "Enough is enough."

Staff writers Jan TenBruggencate, James Gonser, Suzanne Roig, Kevin Dayton, Timothy Hurley and Walter Wright contributed to this report.