Soldiers' dad sounds off at Cornbread and Beans
By James S. Tyree
Transcript Staff Writer
Larry Syverson spent Veterans Day honoring Americans in the armed forces in what he considers the best way possible -- by advocating for their withdrawal from Iraq during a visit to Norman.
The geologist from Richmond, Va., is visiting the region to speak on that cause. Friday, he spoke at the Tyner's Cornbread and Beans luncheon in a packed conference room at Furr's Cafeteria.
Syverson is no pacifist, as three of his four sons are veterans and two are Army soldiers who've been deployed to Iraq. He said he's proud to have at least one son in uniform since 1989, but this war is the first that's compelled him to speak out against military action.
"I understand hardships are a part of the job," Syverson said of military service. "But it has to be for compelling reasons."
Syverson is convinced the war is about securing oil, based on multi-billion dollar business deals there and firsthand accounts from his sons. The speaker had photos of his sons near the podium on posterboards that said Iraqi oil is not worth his sons' blood.
Branden Syverson was a master gunner in Tikrit whose final missions overseas before returning were guarding pipelines and reading reserve tank levels. Being a geologist, the elder Syverson said Iraq sits on the world's second-largest oil reserve, of which only 10 percent has been used.
The speaker accused the Bush administration of planning a long-term occupation all along, something he's believed since learning of a 10-year, $11 billion contract with a private company to build barracks in Baghdad. Syverson also criticized the government's ban on showing flag-draped caskets returning home, saying the fallen "must make their last trip home under the cover of darkness."
The policy is said to show respect for those killed, but Syverson said the explanation is hypocritical because a 2004 campaign ad for President Bush showed a flag-draped victim of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Syverson was shown, with photos of sons Branden and Bryce in the background, in a full-page New York Times ad that ran Sept. 26, 2003, that urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.
"I'm a patriotic American with three sons in the military, two serving in Iraq," said an enlarged quote within the ad. "But the leaders they serve have not acted honorably. They have failed my sons. They have failed all of us. ?"
A woman in the audience asked whether his sons have suffered repercussions because of his outspoken opposition to the war, and Syverson said no. He also said his sons support his views.
Syverson said he received a correspondence from Branden, a career soldier, that said anyone who brands his father as unpatriotic could kiss his (posterior).
"They can pick up a rifle and join the troops, or pick up a sign to get the troops home," the writing continued.
Branden Syverson is stateside at Fort Knox, where he is training soldiers. He was promised not to be sent back if he re-enlists, but his father fears the Army may not fulfill the promise.
Bryce Syverson, a gunner who was stationed in Baghdad, has returned to the United States, where he is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. His discharge was due this month but a stop-loss policy will allow the Army to keep him until February 2007, during which time Bryce could be deployed again.
"If things were going that well in Iraq, we wouldn't need to send soldiers in in his condition with a gun in his hands back to Iraq," Syverson said.
State Sen. Cal Hobson of Lexington will speak Friday at the next Cornbread and Beans luncheon.
James S. Tyree 366-3539 firstname.lastname@example.org
Soldiers' dad sounds off at Cornbread and Beans
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