Questions, but no regrets, arose in area soldier WAR IN THE GULF

January 16, 1992|By Jay Merwin | Jay Merwin,Evening Sun Staff

From the beginning, Laura Clark questioned the purpose of the Persian Gulf War, but never regretted her part in it. A year later, she remains ambivalent.

"In a war, somebody's going to die. I have mixed feelings about that," she said.

Her doubt applies to any war, she said, whether the battle was fought to stop Saddam Hussein's aggression or mainly to keep Kuwaiti oil flowing at reasonable prices.

Clark, 27, had signed up with the National Guard after leaving active duty with the Army. She hoped that serving in the Guard would position her for a career in law enforcement.

"I wasn't thinking I was going to go out and kill anybody, and I never did," said Clark, who now lives in White Marsh.

Her career strategy was about to pay off in the fall of 1990. She had just graduated from the police academy and was preparing to start a job as a Baltimore County police officer when the call came from her guard unit.

The 290th MP company, based in the Towson armory, was mobilized in November and sent to Saudi Arabia the next month. Clark, who held the rank of specialist, believed in doing her duty, but she wondered about the war.

"I didn't know if I could have said this is justified," Clark said. "I was seeing it [the war] as just for the money, the oil."

Her military police company was put to work in Saudi Arabia helping to build a huge prison camp for prisoners of war. After the ground war started, Clark spent long hours guarding thousands of Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered.

She became friends with some of the Kuwaiti interpreters in the camp who told her of how the Iraqis had destroyed their homes and stolen everything their families had worked for. "They and their families were the victims of all this," Clark said. For the return of Kuwait to the Kuwaitis, she concluded, "it was worth it in that aspect."

During the war, she had believed in pressing the battle to an overthrow of Saddam. But from today's perspective, Clark isn't so sure.

Saddam is "not helping his people, but we can't go around telling people how to live," she said. "If he wasn't there any more, who's to say the next person won't be worse. Probably he will be worse."

Clark and her company came home last April and she resumed the pursuit of her ambitions. She now is an officer with the Baltimore County Police Department.

As for the war, "I haven't been dwelling on it," she said.

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