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Jan-26-2009 20:17printcomments

Corvallis Woman Says She Will Fast to Death to Protest Iraq War Deployment

Michele Darr says she is determined to Keep National Guard in Oregon.

Michele Darr on Oregon's Capitol steps.
Michele Darr on Oregon's Capitol steps. photo by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - On January 22nd, 2009, Michele Darr, a Corvallis mother of 6, commenced a second hunger strike in addition to the 24-hour vigil that she and members of Camp Homebound have maintained on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem since November 1st, 2008.

In an all-out effort to pass legislation giving the Governor authority to block this spring's deployment of the Oregon National Guard, Darr has decided to "fast unto death" as a means of generating the support necessary to garner sponsors for a proposed bill in the State Legislature and to engage Oregonians in the struggle to protect the troops, and keep them in Oregon, where they belong.

Darr says the lives of 3,500 Oregon National Guard troops hang in the balance.

When this article was originally published, the statement was made that according to the Governor and General Mike Caldwell of the Oregon National Guard, this deployment can only be stopped if "tens of thousands" more people call and write their legislators and Governor.

Both Michele Darr and Operation Homecoming reported to after a meeting with state officials December 6th, 2008, that they were told by a state official that a million signatures might be enough to stop the Iraq deployment.

We were contacted by Mike Braibish of the Oregon National Guard today, who was concerned that the statements from Mike Caldwell were not being presented accurately. We apologize for that error.

"These brave, stalwart soldiers are readying to once again go above and beyond the call of duty and deploy away from their homes, their families, and their communities -- many for the second and third time -- into wars that are not justifiable either legally or morally."

Darr contends that the war in Iraq is illegal. This war protestor says she sincerely cares about the future for these Oregon soldiers.

Darr said, "Should they deploy, they will once again be putting themselves into harm's way, and it is likely that some of them will not return. I feel it is my duty to put my life on the line for them, as they unquestionably do for all of us, and I ask concerned Oregonians to help by contacting their legislators at once. I intend to fast until this deployment is stopped," Darr said.

Darr says she is not alone in her anguish at the impending departure. At a January 5th ceremony bidding farewell to the first 20 deploying Guard troops, Senate President Peter Courtney stated: "I feel my state and my people become more vulnerable. Just last week, we needed you to go to Gresham when Mother Nature came our way. You take care of us."

Darr says Governor Kulongoski has also publicly expressed deep objections to what he considers to be a very dangerous mission, further stating that he is "very offended by it" according to Darr.

In addressing the human cost of this deployment, the governor reportedly said, "I think everybody is worried about the continual deployment of the Guard."

Darr said he added, "I think sometimes we're asking too much of these kids and their families."

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley's opinion Darr says, is "Our national Guard shouldn't be utilized in this way… So I'm really supporting the campaign to get them home." Darr, Camp Homebound and Oregon PeaceWorks say they couldn't agree more. They say they are committed to the struggle to protect Oregon's defenders in the National Guard, and ask Oregonians who care to step forward and make their voices heard.

"We are the last line of defense, my friends," Darr pleaded. "Please don't let our Guard down."

Previous reports on Michele Darr and Operation Homebound:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Joe Anybody February 20, 2009 2:33 am (Pacific time)

I support Michel Darr’s anti war message, of love, caring and peace. She is dedicated her life to peace awareness. I am glad to see so many people are discussing this message of sending Oregon men and women to an illegal war. The Authorization for use of force is not accurate, legal, nor applicable. What Michele is doing is waking people up. Let’s make a concerted effort to end war and killing people. Let’s keep the troops home. Lets work really hard to make peace possible. Let’s support the front line activist. I have a page for all the videos of Michele Darr and Camp Homebound on this link here: Thanks !!

Hal February 8, 2009 8:25 pm (Pacific time)

I will not deploy to Iraq or any other hellhole for oil. I speak to H Schools and tell kids like it is.

Lisa February 3, 2009 12:48 pm (Pacific time)

While I agree that our troops need to come come, Ms. Darr's obligation in life is to her children. She is doing them a grave misservice.

Major Mike Braibish February 2, 2009 7:50 pm (Pacific time)

The statements published in this story that Michelle Darr attributed to Oregon National Guard representatives are hearsay and are not an accurate reflection of what was said. Salem-News chose not to contact the Oregon National Guard for an accurate accounting of the statements by Oregon National Guard personnel. Furthermore, when I offered to provide them an accurate account, simply revised the statement with greater inaccuracy. As of yet, has not asked the Oregon National Guard for an accurate accounting of the statements our representatives.

 Tim King: Mike, I wrote to you the very day you contacted us about that and then revised the story to, so I thought, meet your objections and wrote to you again.  You did not return either of my contacts and there is little I can do when there is no communication.  Please know that I never mean to represent information incorrectly.  What I said in the last unanswered email to you was that  it is unfortunate that the meeting had to be conducted without a media presence.  I am not suggesting it was your decision of course, I believe it was issued by the Governor's Office.  I'm just saying that transparency always helps.  I will call you tomorrow during working hours and email again, sorry about this.  

wianfxbut January 29, 2009 12:42 am (Pacific time)

(Corvallis Woman Says She Will Fast to Death to Protest Iraq War Deployment) Hmmm. Do you suppose that the process of starving oneself to death is hurried along in cold weather? If not, then I sure do hope that Global Warming, er, uh, I mean "climate change" is real after all. This is indeed a case of self-inflicted, "natural-selection", and I applaud it...

Vic January 28, 2009 8:52 am (Pacific time)

I supported this until I found that Ms Darr has SIX children. That was her one forced her to have so many, and I think she should be spending time with her children. To do anything else seems selfish to me. I would continue to protest, but not in a way that upsets, ignores or neglects ones children. That is as wrong ,I think,as sending National Guard troops overseas.

Ariel January 28, 2009 7:52 am (Pacific time)

I am afraid, Michele, that you are allowing yourself to be placated by politicians. My husband is one of the soldiers preparing for this deployment, and as far as the military is concerned, there is no way that they are not going. In less than 8 weeks they will be leaving. Leaving your children without a mother and forcing them to watch as their mother withers away from starving herself is not the answer.

gail January 28, 2009 5:07 am (Pacific time)

I appreciate that Darr feels like her death will promote peace, but this is just her feelings. There are many ways to continue to promote peace and justice while alive. Perhaps she wants to be a saint. While I supported the sad decision of Tommy Sands and the Buddist self immolaters in Vietnam,they were in a different chapter of propaganda wars. She would do far more to spend her energy and time raising 6 peaceful citizens. Suicide, that is what threatens her, will only leave scarred children. I regret to say that Durr doesn't have the luxory of fasting to death. On the other hand, perhaps she has such a burdan with all those children that she finds this an acceptable way out. I think she is disingenuous.

Anonymous January 27, 2009 11:52 am (Pacific time)

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the federalization of the Reserves/Guard. I think protesting is great, heck that's how we developed the start of America, but I'm afraid this young lady is going to lose some weight.

Anonymous January 27, 2009 9:08 am (Pacific time)

Please Michele, You can do far more good by helping your children to understand the injustices that the war has caused so that they can share with future generations. I don't think that the powers that be will go against their corporate interests. I wish that we weren't so controlled by a corporate government and media but that is the sad truth. Please spend this time with your children and living to help teach the furure generations not to repeat our mistakes.

Vic January 27, 2009 8:38 am (Pacific time)

Reading the arrogant, self-absorbed,hateful, racist white trash rant of "an eloquent marine" makes me sick. What a little primadonna.

DENCOUCH January 27, 2009 6:37 am (Pacific time)

Us Vets are behind you Ms. Darr! Stick with your protest for as long as it takes!

ORNG January 26, 2009 10:28 pm (Pacific time)

As much as i would like to, i cannot claim this email as my own, its not. It was sent to me, and i felt it was the best response to her. As a member of the military, i knew what i was getting myself into, and not once did i ask her to abandon her kids to come "protect" me from my own job. Like the email said, most people don't know what we do over there, and they don't want to. just stop protesting and let us do our jobs....and continue to read Tim Kings stories for the best unbiased news about Iraq and Afghanistan.

stephen January 26, 2009 10:05 pm (Pacific time)

I, personally, want the national guard, and the marines to come home, and protect us here. I trust them, but I dont trust their owners.

stephen January 26, 2009 9:59 pm (Pacific time)

I am so with you on this. Its late and I am a bit tired, but I promise to be back in the morning. I really think what you are doing is positive, and I sit here wondering why "I" didnt get the (enter own word) to do what you are doing. you are an inspiration.

conservative January 26, 2009 9:50 pm (Pacific time)

good luck, women. mcdonalds is right around the corner. anyway, who is taking care of your 6 kids? the state? welfare? sure like to know. you sure won't get any sympathy from me.

ORNG January 26, 2009 9:30 pm (Pacific time)

AN ELOQUENT MARINE Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2008 14:07:09 -0700 Reconnaissance Marine in Afghanistan

It's freezing here. I'm sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains along the Dar'yoi Pomir River watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles. I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but them scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack. The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water.
That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware, we bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.
It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet.
These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin.
I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit a bloody ear into his face and plunge my nickel plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me. I'm a romantic. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit s&#t hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.
Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu if that's your idea of a party. But the smell of one of those 'tent cities of the walking dead' is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day. I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtins for over a month and a half now and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of 'em, are Huns. Actual, living Huns. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families or for each other or for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each others barbarism. Cavemen with AK47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky. I'm freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours. Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart.' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning.' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless and, when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart. They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it. OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice but I'm good at it. Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bulls#@t and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control.
The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here because you have no idea what we're doing and, really, you don't want to know. We are your military and we are doing what you sent us here to do.
You wanna help? Buy Bonds America. Saucy Jack

Reconnaissance Marine in Afghanistan
Semper Fidelis

Salam Aliakum man, Holy smokes: I do not envy your position in life and I have been in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush on the most bitter days and I can truly empathize with that. BTW, I had to do some correcting there because even decorated Marines can't use profanity here, it's a family thing. If you ever want to send in stories to have them published, please do. We love first-hand perspective around here. Something really interesting about the lady this article is about, is that she was married and living in Kuwait during the first Gulf War in '91. She, like many of us, has been there and done that. Anyway, is proof to the world that Marines aren't a bunch of knuckle draggers. I was a Marine in the 80's, though I always prefered "Uncle Sam's Misguided Children".

Peace to all of you, Tim King

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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