Hawaii Residents Voice Their Support For Lt. Watada

Lieutenant Ehren Watada
Lieutenant Ehren Watada

By Paul Drewes

(KHNL) - While arguments are heard in court, cheers of support are heard in Hawaii's streets for Lt. Ehren Watada.

One of those demonstrations took place at Fort Shafter, as dozens gathered to send a message to the military and the general public over a case that has many talking.

With cheers and chants, there is no mistaking how demonstrators feel about the war in Iraq. They also feel very strongly about Lt. Watada's actions.

"He is an excellent role model for people in the military and civilians, to stand up for what you believe in, even against great odds. And do the right thing, no matter what the cost," says Lt. Watada supporter, Liz Rees.

But among the crowd today are some former soldiers, who while supporting Watada, also understand some in the military face a no win situation.

"Many people in the military support Watada, we're here to support the troops. But its damned if you or damned if you don't. They end up facing war crimes or a courtmartial like Watada," says Pete Doktor, a former Army soldier.

Watada's court-martial is not only closely followed by civilians, many in the military are also talking about this case.

"Most in the military feel he should get jail time and expect him to get the maximum penalty," says one soldier.

And while they may not agree with a prison sentence, some also admit, those who serve could use this case, as a way to get out of an increasingly unpopular war.

"I think it would be a domino effect, a lot of people making the same claim just to get out of their contract that they agreed to. You raised your arm to follow an order," says one Air Force service member.

For civilians at this week's demonstrations, they are raising their voices and making their message heard.

Something they agree to do, even after Lt. Watada's court-martial is over.