Gulfport High JROTC Students Speak Out About Troop Increase

Some South Mississippi students considering the military as a career have mixed emotions about the news from President Bush to increase the number of troops in Iraq. Students and faculty in Gulfport High's Junior ROTC program may not all agree with the president's new strategy, but all say it won't change their minds about becoming a part of the military.

Ashley Hamilton is on her way to the U.S. Marine Corps. It's a decision this high school senior made because of the Junior ROTC program. She says she backs the U.S. government, even with the president's latest decision to send more troops to Iraq.

"If he pulls back now it will be just like Vietnam," says Hamilton.

More than 3,000 soldiers have already lost their lives in the war in Iraq. Now President Bush plans to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq with the first round to leave as early as next week.

While critics are ready to end the four-year-old war, Sgt. Major Lynch, the man helping prepare ROTC students for the future believes the President is right on target.

"We elected the President and we put our faith in him and if we are going to do that, then we should trust his judgment and back him up. The more that we come over here and demonstrate against the war and so forth, the more strength the people have over there fighting. Because they know that as long as they drag this out long enough, then we are going to quit," says Lynch.

Some Junior ROTC members don't know what to make of the news, but what they do know is no more lives should be lost.

"There are troops already over there dying, and it's all over oil. That's how this whole thing got started, over oil," says JROTC student Patrick Thompson.

Fellow classmate William Stratton agrees with Thompson. He also feels the president should not send more troops to Iraq.

"I think we need to slowly start retracting troops. We should bring them back home because we've already fought our battles. We are done over there. We've set up their system and we need to let them take it from there," says Stratton.