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Opinion about the war varies in Medford

After watching the first reports of war at Howiee's on Front early Wednesday evening, Wilbert Joseph Jefferson says he's proud to have served his country in Vietnam. He went on to say that, having seen war, he prays to God for a quick ending to this one. / Roy Musitelli — — — —

As missiles flew over Baghdad, Medford residents voiced a mix of opinions about U.S. military action.

Applause greeted President George Bush's address to the nation at Howiee's on Front, where every television around the bar was tuned to CNN.

To me it was gratifying that he came on right away to explain what was happening, said Medford resident Carl Seig after the president's speech.

Seig said he was relieved that the nation had taken action.

His companion, Leslie Stumbaugh, agreed.

I feel that if we didn't attack them, they would attack us, as they already have on Sept. 11, she said. There is talk of innocents being injured and killed, but the people at the World Trade Center were innocents.

Down the bar, Wilbert Joseph Jefferson proudly wore a hat proclaiming his Vietnam veteran status, a sweatshirt emblazoned with Fairchild Air Force Base, and an Air Force ring. But he greeted the war news with mixed feelings.

I did my job in Vietnam, but I don't know what's going on with this war, he said. I'm not a politician.

I pray for the soldiers and their families and the Iraqi people. I hope to God we get this conflict over quickly.

At another downtown watering hole, Bad Ass Coffee Co., a group of teenagers from around Medford discussed the start of military action as they got updates on the bombing campaign via cell phone.

I support Bush. This has been going on way too long, said Brent Wehage, a student at North Medford High School.

I don't like war, but I feel it's necessary in this situation, said Cierra Lockwood. I just hope it's over fast.

Brian Bones, a Phoenix High School student, cheered the attack with a Bomb Saddam chant punctuated with a shake of his fist.

However, he acknowledged that his generation has no experience of war.

We have ignorance of war, he said. We think it's fun and games.

I don't think we understand the ramification of war on our resources, said Amanda Hulvert, also a Phoenix student.

The group launched into a spirited discussion of war's effect on the economy historically.

At Alba Park, Eagle Point resident Barry Laing took the same stand he historically has taken against war. A Quaker active in antiwar protests since the 1960s, he and his family joined a handful of others gathered in the pavilion for a candlelight vigil.

He said the attacks were a great disappointment, but not a surprise.

We're gathered to keep alive in our minds our concerns, Laing said. It's necessary for the peace movement to come together at times like this.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4459, or e-mail