Arkansas Veterans Rally Around Kerry in Downtown Jonesboro

SEPTEMBER 27, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:50pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - As John Kerry spoke about the war in Iraq during a stop in Wisconsin, a small group of veterans, including two men who served under Kerry during the Vietnam War, were traveling across Arkansas explaining why he should be the next President of the United States.

Fred Short, who is from North Little Rock and served with Kerry aboard PCF 94, spoke of a violent day on a boat in a Vietnam canal, "So in one day, we had four ambushes. We lost no Americans, and we had 10 Vietcong killed and one captured. I saw a man risk his life to save my life."

"Senator Kerry saved our lives," said Drew Whitlow, a Huntsville, Arkansas resident who also served with Senator Kerry. "He brought us back home alive, and I feel that he's just right for the country."

"He knows the cost of a war," added Herschel Gober, a veteran who served under President Bill Clinton as U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "A war that he didn't even have to fight in if he didn't want to, but he volunteered and he said, send me to Vietnam, and now he's saying, send me to the White House."

Two local veterans at the rally believe the Middle East is not where American troops should be.

Ralph Lee, a veteran from Bono, explained "I think it's the spending that we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan too. I didn't think we should be there, but we're there, so I'm gonna support the troops, but I don't have to like the president."

"I think we're gonna end up with another Vietnam that's gonna be long and drawn out, and it's gonna cost the taxpayer a lot of money, and we're gonna loose a lot of lives more than anything else," added D. L. Gowen, a Vietnam veteran from Jonesboro.

The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll shows six in 10 voters said the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq, and 55% of registered voters believe President Bush is too willing to take risks. Meanwhile, polls show more voters continue to dislike Senator John Kerry personally. Senator Kerry is behind in most national polls.

President Bush will get a chance to defend his actions on foreign policy in the first of three Bush-Kerry debates. It is scheduled for September 30th in Coral Gables, Florida.