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Veterans: McCain is the man for the job
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This is the A4 Skyhawk plane that David Dellinger, a local Vietnam veteran, flew during the war. The plane is the same kind of aircraft John McCain piloted when he was shot down over enemy territory.

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Hear David Dellinger, a local Vietnam veteran, discuss why he believes veterans will turn out in droves to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

As the presidential candidates spend the next 37 days jockeying for votes, Republican candidate John McCain may safely count the votes of war veterans already in his front pocket.

Vietnam War veteran John McCain espouses his military service and 26 years in Congress as qualifications for the office of president of the United States of America.

Local war veterans said they largely support the Arizona senator for president. Veterans said it’s McCain’s life experience and grit they value.

David Dellinger, vice president of the Northeast Georgia chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, said it has always been clear to him who he’s voting for on Nov. 4.

"McCain, of course," he said.

Dellinger said he’s not voting for McCain just because he also was in the Navy during the Vietnam War, or because he flew an A4 Skyhawk plane like the one McCain piloted when he was shot down over enemy territory.

"Mainly I like his ideas versus (Barack) Obama’s. His philosophy fits more with mine. He’s the best of the two by far," Dellinger said.

McCain served as a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. His one-seater plane was shot down, and he splashed down in enemy territory. He was captured by the enemy and spent years as a prisoner of war, including two he passed in solitary confinement.

It’s been well-publicized that McCain, son of a U.S. Navy admiral, turned down a chance to return home to his wife and children while enduring daily torture in a POW camp. Several veterans of Vietnam and Korea alike said they believe McCain’s character through this trial makes him a more firm and decisive leader in this time of war and economic woe.

Paul Scroggs, president of the local chapter of Korean War Veterans of Georgia, said he already voted for McCain as an early voter and never considered supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"One served out of the two that are running for president," Scroggs said. "A person who has put his life on the line ... and is that far away from home and has gone through that experience, I think, has a different feel for our country."

Scroggs said he believes McCain will have "good, quick responses" to trying situations he will face as president. Because of McCain’s POW experience in Vietnam, Dellinger said he believes McCain has more empathy for the United States than Obama and also is more capable in crises.

"(McCain) has been through the worst of times that he could possibly go through and still live," he said. "I think he could handle emergency situations much, much better than Obama."

Bill Harris is president of the Northeast Georgia Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He also supports McCain, but said it’s not because the candidate is a veteran.

"Whether he was a Vietnam veteran or not is not my concern. I think he’s the one to get us out of the predicament we’re in," Harris said. "Our country’s in the toilet.

"I firmly believe he’s got the experience, the knowledge and the leadership in which to lead our country."

Harris, also a Navy man, said when it comes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he believes McCain will not be a "pansy as we have been in the past few years."

Harris said he believes McCain has a firmer stance on terrorism and will keep U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as long as necessary.

"The U.S. has a problem where we don’t finish what we start. We backed out of Vietnam. We didn’t lose the war, the politicians lost it for us," he said.

Will McCain do things differently if presiding over American troops?

"I sincerely hope so, because Barack Obama will not," Harris said.

Scroggs said he fears if the next president withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan too early, the consequences could be similar to the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

"I shudder to think that could happen again in Iraq. It was very demoralizing for our country," he said. "At least in Korea we drew a line. If we pull out of Iraq, it’d go back to the way it was, I think. Our presence there is very important."

While all veterans interviewed said their views do not necessarily represent their associated groups, they all said they believe McCain winning the presidency would lead to a better future for America.

Dellinger, 69, said he had only one qualm with the Republican candidate who just celebrated his 72nd birthday.

"I wish John McCain was a little younger," he said. "He’s about my age, and we’re too old to be doing this stuff."

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