By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON February 14, 2003 For Ed and Bettie Muller, the lines being drawn between peace protesters on the homefront and those poised to launch war against Iraq in the sands of the Persian Gulf region are clearly cut.
Youre either behind our president, our soldiers and our country, or youre on the side of the enemy, thats what I think [because] I have a son whos putting his life on the line over there, said Ed Muller.
Eric Muller, a 23-year-old serviceman currently on duty in Kuwait graduated third in his class from Delaware Valley High School in 1997.
While in high school, he signed on the dotted line with the U.S. Armys Delayed Entry Program (DEP).
A month after getting his diploma, Muller was on his way to basic training at Fort Jackson.
After completing specialized training at Fort Knox, he headed off for a tour in Germany with the Big Red One, followed by two tours in war-torn Kosovo.
In Kosovo, Muller pulled a lot of guard duty with a Starlight scope-equipped rifle. The scope can take the light emitted from the tip of a burning cigarette and magnify it 120,000 times: just the thing for punching the ticket of an enemy soldier lighting up on a dark night.
He was watching the backs of his buddies on the main drag in Kosovo, so nobody could sneak up on them and pull anything on em, said Ed Muller.
While Eric Muller was serving in Kosovo, the Army cut his tour short and brought him back to the states for specialized tank recovery training at Fort Stewart in Georgia.
In the wake of five months training in the inner workings of a M88 tank retriever, the U.S. Army Specialist assigned to the Third Infantry, 7th Cavalry (George Armstrong Custers old unit), arrived in Kuwait on January 20.
Were proud of him because hes doing something good, said Bettie Muller. But of course youre scared something bad is going to happen. ... Its always on my mind, [but] you try not to think about it.
Asked if the U.S. military should engage in war against Saddam Hussein, she replied, You have to do something, because if you dont, its really going to be a mess. Im not a warmonger, but something has to be done to stop it.
Ed Muller is the proud father of a serviceman who speaks his mind about the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict, recorded in history books as Desert Storm.
I think we made a big mistake not taking him [Hussein] out years ago. . . . We should have ended it right there, he said.
I said to myself, were going to live to fight this another day, he added. And sure enough, here we are 12 years later, [but] now he has much more bad stuff hidden around. If we leave him in power, hes going to get the delivery systems to hit the U.S.
Ed Mullers view of the growing worldwide outcry against a possible war in Iraq?
Having a son in the Army, I dont have much respect for these peace people, he said. Its like Vietnam all over again. . . . Our boys were getting killed over there, and these people were walking around with their peace signs. . . . They didnt want to go and wouldnt fight.
Ed and Bettie Muller said they firmly believe in peoples right to express their views but in support of the nations troops.
Thank God we can voice our opinion, said Bettie Muller.
The peace demonstrators have a right to their opinion but should stand behind their country, said Ed Muller, adding he is concerned about the effect peace rallies have on morale in the armed services.
You have to love this country theres no other like it in the world, he said. Patriotism means everything, [and] if you dont like it, you should get out.
The Mullers are proud of their son and his service to his country: yellow ribbons are wrapped around all the trees in front of their house, a Blue Star flag is displayed in an upstairs widow and Bettie Muller wears a handmade yellow ribbon every day to work.
At one point, the Mullers were having a hard time getting a Blue Star flag, the symbol of a loved one on active duty.
After reading their letter to the editor encouraging people to support our troops, Russell and Lillian Constant of Roscoe came to the rescue.
On January 22, the Constants sent the Mullers a Blue Star flag, compliments of Cook-Taylor Post 111 of the American Legion in Ellenville.
Their 22-year-old son Christopher is currently on active duty with the U.S. Navy in Siganella, Sicily.
Enclosed youll find a Blue Star flag to display in honor of your son, our son and the many thousands of military men and women who strive for freedom, said the Constants.
We pray that a resolution can be reached so we do not have to go to war, they added. But if not, we pray for the safe return of your son and ours.
On Saturday, Ed and Bettie Muller got their first letter home from Eric, now stationed at Camp Udairi, Kuwait.
Dear folks, we finally made it, he said. We left around 11 a.m. on Monday and got here like 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. . . . This is the biggest wide-open wasteland Ive ever seen.
Further on in his letter to the folks at home, Eric Muller said camp life was boring and asked them to send him some gun magazines. As a youth, he used to pick off woodchucks up on the hill at 400 yards with a Remington .22/.250-caliber rifle fitted with a 16X scope.
Hes a regular country boy, a crack shot, an excellent student and a soldier, said Ed Muller.
And his sons fate weighs heavily upon this father.
I dont want to see a war, he said. Who wants to see their son in a war?