- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

The commanding general of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio is warning military personnel not to wear their uniforms when off duty in that Texas city because of two recent threats on soldiers and sailors stationed there.
"As individuals voice their opinions against military operations, they tend to direct their frustrations toward governmental and military symbols," Maj. Gen. Darrel R. Porr said in a notice sent to base members throught the Internet Mail Service on April 11.
Gen. Porr wanted to alert all military personnel that they could be "putting themselves and their families in harm's way" if they wear their uniforms off base in San Antonio, said Phil Reidinger, a Fort Sam Houston spokesman.
In the first incident, two males on San Antonio's northeast side made threatening gestures and pounded on the windows of a car driven by an Army drill sergeant. The sergeant's wife was a passenger in the car. The two were returning home from work.
Gen. Porr said the second incident involved two sailors in uniform, who were "accosted" as they left a River Walk restaurant by several males who said, "You'd better not go to war."
Mr. Reidinger said some Marines, who were not in uniform but were in the vicinity at the time of the confrontation, went to the aid of the sailors.
"The matter was then taken care of by combined military action," said Mr. Reidinger, who would not elaborate.
Fort Sam Houston is primarily an Army base, but it's also a major combat medical training facility and is home to members of the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.
San Antonio City Council member Julian Castro called Gen. Porr's advisory "unfortunate," saying he does not believe the hostile actions it was based on reflect the general tone in San Antonio.
Those responsible for the harassment, the council member said, "were probably very immature young people."
Base spokeswoman Esther Garcia noted that San Antonio is nicknamed "Military City USA" because of the many military installations based there. In addition to Fort Sam Houston, there are Randolph Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, and Brooks City Base, which is being leased by the Air Force.
"Even here in San Antonio, which has its well-deserved nickname and where 99.9 percent of the community support the troops, there are folks out there who inappropriately communicate their political agendas," Mr. Reidinger said.
Columnist Roddy Stinson of the San Antonio Express-News, who has been covering Gen. Porr's recommendations, has criticized community and political leaders in San Antonio for showing "pitifully little support for U.S. soldiers" in Iraq.
In a column Thursday, Mr. Stinson wrote about a local woman named Melissa Galvan, who said she had sought support from both San Antonio Mayor Edward Garza and the San Antonio City Council for a tribute to the troops and their families she was planning.
Neither got back to her, she said. And when the tribute was held April 5, U.S. Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez, Texas Democrat, was the only public official who showed up. What's more, she said, the 19 local police officers who provided security billed her $1,537 for their services.
Asked whether she thinks indifference on the part of San Antonio officials is a factor in the hostility some are showing those in the armed services, Gayle McDaniel, assistant to the City Council, said, "No, I do not."
Miss McDaniel said she knows at least some of the 10 council members would have attended the tribute if they had known it was on. She said Miss Galvan had failed to confirm that in writing.
Yesterday, Steven Schauer, spokesman for the mayor, said Mr. Garza knew of the date of the tribute but had a prior commitment. He also said the mayor told police officials yesterday his office will pay for security at Miss Galvan's event.
In addition, said Mr. Schauer, the mayor has scheduled a march on behalf of the troops May 1.
Mr. Castro said Mr. Stinson's portrayal of the council's sentiment toward the military is "not accurate at all." He noted he has participated in candlelight vigils and moments of silence for the troops in Iraq.
Mr. Schauer agreed, saying the mayor has visited with wounded soldiers in area hospitals.
Gen. Porr also has advised military personnel to "not get involved" in situations where people voice their opposition to the war in Iraq, not talk about their work or "military operations in general" and always practice the "buddy system" when traveling.

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