New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 11, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
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“Freedom of the press is for those who
— A.J. Leibling columnist, 1946
Matters of life and death
Local heroes abound as summer fun turns tragic in county and on rivers
The police scanner had been relatively quiet the past week or two at the Herald-Zeitung.
That changed dramatically Saturday.
With tourists clogging New Braunfels streets and parks and tubers crowding the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, some kind of trouble was
bound to happen.
Saturday afternoon a call came in that a Alvin resident had jumped from Preiss Heights cliffs into the Guadalupe. He was knocked unconscious from the leap, sank to the bottom of the river and drowned.
As tubers floated by and onlookers strained for a view, members of three different emergency dive teams began a search for the victim.
The victim’s body was recovered later, but that wouldn't be the only work divers and other law enforcement officers would do that day.
Several injuries occurred on the river, including one in which the victim sustained head injuries severe enough that AirLife was called in for transport.
Police dispatchers kept up a seemingly constant stream of chatter as more and more calls went out over the scanner.
A child lost from his group was in the capable hands of a Sheriffs deputy Saturday. That deputy finally transported that youth himself to the youth’s camp site at Huaco Springs.
A major accident on FM 2673 required emergency crews to tend to
the injuries of a motorcyclist.
And on the crime front, besides the public intoxication problems faced by local authorities.jjolice also set and sprung a trap on a motorist who reportedly had shot a policeman in another community.TTiat report, however, proved false and the motorist and those in his vehicle were released.
All in all, it was busy day for local law enforcement and rescue personnel, but it was not unique.
Summer in New Braunfels and Comal County offers emergency crews real challenges. Life and death dramas are played out on weekends (and throughout the week) in our area.
When we, as a newspaper, run photographs of wrecks or other tragic accidents, remember the story outside of the tragedy — the story o* local heroes who give it their all to save lives.
(Today’s editorial was written by Managing Editor Doug Love-day.)
The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung welcomes letters on any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to 250 words. We publish only original mail addressed to The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung bearing the writer's signature. Also, an address and a telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included.
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Corps9 spirit alive and well in U.S.
Editor’s note: The following article, written by CWO Robert C. Jenks, was dropped by our office by Mayor Paul Fraser. Fraser, a former Marine, received the article from a local resident whose grandson is a corporal in the Marine Corps in California. This story was read to that corporal and other Marines at their base following the bombing at the federal building in Oklahoma City.
April 19 was a very bad day for America. For Marines, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City strikes a painful nerve. The Corps mourns two lost Marines while nursing four others injured by the blast. When television first broadcast the images of the explosion, one could hear the Corps gasp. “It looks just like the embassy in Beirut!” was the common comment, referring to the April 18, 1983 terrorist car bomb detonation in Lebanon. This was only a prologue to the disaster that would claim 243 Marine, soldier and sailor lives in the barracks that October. As in Lebanon, the “always faithful” ethos of Marines is alive in-Oklahoma City.
On the morning of April 21, Michael Curtain, a New York City police officer who had been sent to Oklahoma City as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Task Force and who hoi been working for many hours without rest, saw a body covered with rubble. He recognized the material of the trousers. The trousers were deep blue with a broad red stripe—the Corps call it a blood stripe. Officer Curtain knew immediately that it was a Marine because he too is a Marine—a reserve first sergeant.
“It was like I was driven,” said Curtain. “Somehow, I knew what I had to do," he said. After the first sergeant found the dress blue trousers, he cut away part of the fabric and saw that the man was white. He
Editor and Publisher...........................................................David Sullens
General Manager............................................................Cheryl Duvall
Managing Editor...........................................................Doug Loveday
Advertising Director......................................................Tracy Stevens
Circulation Director....................................................Carol Ann Avery
Pressroom Foreman...................................................Douglas Brandt
Classified Manager........................................................Laura Cooper
City Editor.......................... Ro9er Croteau
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knew then that it had to be Capt. Randolph L. Guzman, the recruiting station executive officer. The other Marine who was still unaccounted for was Sgt. Benjamin L. Davis, and Davis was known to have been of Asian heritage and had darker skin.
“When I found the captain, I started asking around to see who among the rescuers was a Marine,” Curtain said. “I found three former Marines who were part of the rescue effort." Curtain found Manny Hernandez and Juan Garcia, both New York City policemen. Ray Bonner, a paramedic, also stepped forward. Curtain now had a fire team and asked for permission to remove the captain's body. “It was something I had to do,” said Hernandez, a Vietnam veteran. “I had a squad under me in ‘Nam and whenever we lost a Marine, he was never left. We have this tradition. We take care of our own.”
The excavation took 5 hours and involved a great deal of risk “We had to use an electric jackhammer to chip the concrete away from the captain," Curtain said During this effort, the columns dangerously shifted twice before they were able to get Guzman free.
After placing Guzman’s remains in a body bag, die word spread throughout downtown Oklahoma City that the Marines were bringing out one of their own. An unidentified Air Force colonel, upon hearing of the Marines’ mission, found an American flag and sent it into the building. “Before we lifted Guzman up and away from the rubble and carried him out, we draped the flag over him,” said Curtain. “When we came out of the building, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Everything had stopped. You could have heard a pin drop. Cranes had stopped. It was completely quiet. Rescuers stopped and looked. People had lined the street. Everyone was watching in silence as we brought our Marine out. We were in a highly vis
ible location...engines were turned off...people removed their hats...bowed their heads...covered '^ their hearts.”
“You could tell the veterans," Curtain said. “They/' were the ones saluting with tears in their eyes.” .• / “When we came out with the flag-draped captairt, * »
I saw why I was a Marine once,” said Hernandez. “It r, is because I know I wouldn't expect anything else <1 from any other Marine if it were me in that body bag.
It revalidated the esprit and brotherhood that lr.r remember taught to me in boot camp years ago. It-. *
, lifted me up. It Was overwhelming. We are a band of-> brothers,” he said. ' '**
Once Guzman's remains were carried from the.", building, two long lines of rescue workers and •* bystanders formed. Without any order or directions they made a corridor leading to the recovery vehicles-that were taking remains to the makeshift morgue;./ , “It was one of the most emotional experiences of. -. my life,” said Curtain. “People had taken their hard >J hats off and were offering respect any way they knew how. It was symbolic of itll Ate emotion that!' everyone was feeling, whether they were Marines or,*; not. We were all involved. The compassion for aH the lost just seemed to surface all at once,” he said..'
Like the 1983 bombing in Beirut, when Lt. Cpl's Jeffrey Nashton, after blindly feeling the four stars '-of Gen. P.X. Kelly, scribbled “Semper Fi” on q S piece of paper as he lay on life support in the hospital.-1 in Germany, the enduring ethos of the Corps is alives in Oklahoma City. <
“It was just a simple thing. But it had to be done,” Hernandez said. “Once we saw the blood snipe on/;, Capt. Guzman’s trousers, we knew he was a Marine,,-and we had no choice. It was simply Semper , Fidelis.”
Do you support a mass/tourist transit system for New Braunfels?
Yes ofrNo (circle one) Comments/Explanations ; ; .-
Various local and regional officials met Thursday night to consider proposals to bring public transportation to New Braunfels.
A study done by E.P. Hamilton and Associates for the city called for two routes for local residents’ use and one route to serve tourists. To receive federal funds for any such project, an application would have to be submitted by January 1996. The Federal Transit Authority yyould kick in 80 percent of capital start-up costs and 50 percent of operating costs.
We want to know what your think.
Fill out the coupon (right), drop it by our office at 707 Landa St., New Braunfels, TX 78130 or fax survey to (210) 625-1224. Copied forms are accepted.
Deadline for this survey is Saturday, June 17,1995.
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Bosnian conflict: One fight we should pass up
By CHARLES DAVIS
As plebes at West Point, we were required to memorize General MacArthur’s message from the Pacific; “From the Far East I send you one single thought, one sole idea, written in red on every beachfront from Australia to Tokyo: there is no substitute for victory.” Such victories as MacArthur envisioned have been in short supply since World War II. Nevertheless, tile message is one which we would do well lo ponder before we discard the plowshare to wield the sword in faraway places. The fracasn the former Yugoslavia is the immediate case in point.
The bottom lines first: NATO airstrikcs against the Serbs—or any of the warring parties for that matter—are ill-advised and the U.S. should neither counsel nor participate in same. Additionally, several European nations have announced plans to beef up their contribution to the U N. forces in the contested Balkan areas. President Clinton ha* announced U.S support for these initiatives and given indications that additional U.S. troop participaUon might be on the horizon. To respond with force lo what we rightly see as gross violations of human decency in that troubled land is a great temptation. We should resist it.
There is more than one reason why we should avoid joining this fight, but the foundational one relates to fundamentals of strategy. Strategy is the link between means and ends, tying resources lo objectives. As numerous contemporary examples will attest, we get into trouble when our objectives are ill-defined. This is tile present case, and we must step back and pragmatically assess the long-term prospects for accomplishing whatever objectives we hold for the Balkans. If our objective is a narrow one—say ensuring the sanctity of a few small “safe areas”—then our actions in pursuit of that objective should be carefully tailored, lf our objective is broader—impose tranquillity in the Balkans—we should be prepared to invest the tremendous resources that will be required. It is not lo be imagined that the American people are ready to undertake that commitment.
It is fashionable today for politicians and statesmen lo talk of “sending an unmistakable message,” “taking punitive retaliatory action," and so forth. As our Vietnam experience demonstrates, we have tried such tactics repeatedly with dismal success. Against an implacable and determined foe—and die belliger
ents in the Balkans on all sides bear those markings—these "messages” do not communicate. Use of force in this fashion only hardens resistance and invariably results in a ratcheling-up of the level of force employed Such “gradualism" can not fail to nourish a minor skirmish into a major conflict. The Serbs' taking of U N. hostages is the latest example. This, in turn, requires an adjustment of our objectives—free the hostages—whose forceful accomplishment will require more resources. While the material resources are available to accomplish this sequential growth in the objectives hierarchy, the will to employ those resources is not. It is not probable that the U.S. citizenry will support great loss of U.S. lives in pursuit of an escalating policy in the Balkans.
Finally, it is good to remind ourselves of important background to the present conflict. Ethnic antagonism—even hatred—is a problem of long-standing in the Balkans. For hundreds of years this has been the case. That the U.S. and NATO have long understood this is demonstrated by the fact that, for many years, the common wargame scenario for armed conflict with the Soviet Union postulated the death of Tito and the outbreak of violence in the former Yugoslavia. Unless the U.S. and European nations are prepared to enforce
peace by subjugation, there is little hope,,, that "messages” and "punishment” will, • Settle the scores. Second, the UN. forces are'well-suited to peace keeping, bvu, they are ill-suited to peace making, Regrettably, the Balkans situation would require the latter. Third, "punishment" is, designed to effect rehabilitation or pro-, nounce retribution. It is clear that NATO, airstrikes have not accomplished the,, former, and it is equally clear that the latter only infuriates the Serbs and escalates the conflict. < r
There is something about the American mystique that longs for truth, jusuqe. "and equity to prevail on the world, as well as the local, scene. When such is not the case there is an almost irre-,; pressible temptation to make our influ-,, ence felt. This is altogether right and . proper.
What must be most carefully contemplated, however, is the use of armed., force as an instrument of that influence.., We’ve done it wrongly before; it looks, like we’re about to do it again. Regrettable as it may be, this is a fight we . should pass up.
(Charles H. Davis, a New Braunfels resident, is a Vietnam veteran and member of the faculty at Southwest Texas State University. From 1990 to 199, he served as the first civilian dean at the U.S. Air Force Air War College.)
The Survey says...
Readers agree — U.S. should stay out of Balkan batt
... ... • a ta#. ■ (ll • A Uo/xli it nnf I W#* rill
The five readers that responded to last week’s survey question “Should the U.S. put troops on the ground in Bosnia?” were resoundingly against any such move in the future.
Some of their their thoughts on the widening conflict in Balkans area and the potential for American involvement there included:
• There is enough military might in Europe to do the job, only they would rather spill American blood, and the draft dodger in the White House agrees.
• Absolutely no troops. I served one year as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam as a result of gradually being drawn into an area that we had no business in. Remember, this is where
World War I was started about 81 years ago.
Let’s watch this one from the sidelines.
• Lift or remove the embargo and let them fight for themselves. We should not even be asking ourselves this question, bul Freud’s Id, Psychology 101, identifies the savage in us all.
Absolutely not! We can’t be big brother to the world. Also, the U.N. has not succeeded in stopping the Serb-Bosnian war.
Pull all of the troops out and let them have at it. The millions spent over there should be spent here in the U.S.
• Bosnia does not pose a threat to U.S. security.