Thursday, January 30, 2003

Marine ships out; his dad wonders

More proof needed, parent/sheriff says

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The weather Wednesday in San Diego was mostly sunny with a high in the low 70s - a perfect day for spending time with the family.

But for Clermont County Sheriff A. J. "Tim" Rodenberg Jr. this particular day in San Diego was bittersweet.

On Wednesday, he and his wife, Kathy, bid their oldest son, Nicholas, farewell.

The younger Rodenberg, a 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps corporal stationed with the 3rd Marine Air Wing in San Diego, was deployed along with his helicopter squadron to the Middle East in anticipation of a U.S.-led war with Iraq.

"We're all right," the sheriff said of his family and, in particular, his son, known as "Niq." "He's prepared for what he has to do. He has trained for this. He said it was coming."

A mechanic who works on CH-53 helicopters, which are large enough to haul both infantry and equipment at the same time, it is unlikely Niq Rodenberg - because of what he does - will actually see combat, the sheriff said.

Still, that doesn't alleviate this father's concerns about the possibilities of war, or even whether war is the only solution.

"I'd like to see a bit more evidence - it would help if our leaders would give us more specifics about exactly what (weapons) the Iraqis have," the sheriff said.

He might soon get an answer.

During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Bush announced that on Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell will present evidence to the United Nations Security Council about Iraq's illegal weapons program.

The president also promised that if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein does not disarm, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm him.

The Rodenbergs have another child, Brad, 19, who is not in the military. Though proud of both their children, the couple is concerned about the safety of their older child. The sheriff said he knows the horrors of war.

A retired Marine who served from 1971-1975, Tim Rodenberg said his best friend was killed while serving in the Army during Vietnam.

"I know about the sense of duty and honor you feel in serving your country," the sheriff said. "But on the other side of it, you don't want your kids to go or be put in harm's way. Some of these kids that go aren't going to come back."


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