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Lodi’s military community reacts to Osama bin Laden’s death

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Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:51 am, Tue May 3, 2011.

Osama bin Laden’s death was met with celebration by members of Lodi’s extended military family on Monday.

“It’s about time,” said Marcia Dempsey, coordinator of Lodi Support Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that operates charity drives for soldiers, including the Holiday Cheer Box Drive, which provides toiletries, books and supplies for servicemen and women. “I’ve always had a feeling we knew where he was or at least should’ve known. We have a lot of smart people in the military.”

Although he agrees bin Laden’s death is a significant milestone in the “War on Terror,” 1st Lt. Will Martin, of the California National Guard in Sacramento, said more work remains. Martin is the National Guard’s public affairs spokesperson for the area, including Lodi.

“In many ways bin Laden is the face of terror,” he said. “But the war is still going.”

Troops are being instructed to remain on a high level of security in the hours since the announcement of bin Laden’s death in case of a terrorist retaliation, Martin said.

“We haven’t heard rumors of threats yet, but it’s early,” Martin said. “We have heightened security, but we aren’t going to overreact.”

The reaction to bin Laden’s death has been overwhelmingly positive, Martin said.

“People are obviously elated,” said Martin.

As soon as the news went public Sunday evening, impromptu rallies and celebrations sprung up around the country. Crowds gathered at the White House to sing and cheer, while college campuses such as Penn State saw large demonstrations as well.

Celebrating someone’s death is usually not something that’s appropriate, Dempsey said, but this situation is different.

“For him there’s an exception,” she said.

Jack Paden, a retired captain in the United States Army, said bin Laden’s death is more symbolic than anything.

“His effectiveness was taken from him years ago,” Paden said. “Strategically it doesn’t mean anything.”

Bob Bechill, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy who resides in Lodi, said bin Laden’s death does provide closure, but also re-opens the wound from 9/11.

“It brings me back to that day,” Bechill said. “I’m glad it’s over.”

While it’s still uncertain if the pictures of bin Laden’s corpse will be made public, Dempsey said she wouldn’t go out of her way to search them out.

“I’m too busy and have no interest in seeing the pictures,” she said. “I’m busy planning a dinner for the American Legion (on) Saturday night.”

Martin said he believes photos will be released, but didn’t speculate on what reaction it could spur in extremists sympathetic to bin Laden.

“It’s a necessary thing to get out there,” Martin said of a photograph of bin Laden’s body. “It will provide validation to what has transpired.”

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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