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Nicaraguan First Lady Arrives To Visit Injured Veteran

September 5, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The wife of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrived Friday night with five of her children to visit a peace activist who lost his legs when he knelt in front of a munitions train, aides said Friday.

Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s common-law-wife, said she had met S. Brian Willson in Nicaragua and was impressed by the strength of his convictions.

″I got the feeling he was a man of great integrity who represents the best feelings of the North American people,″ she said, adding that she brought her children because she read in wire service accounts that Willson always loved Nicaraguan children.

″We don’t want any more sacrifices. ... What we want is peace,″ she said. Murillo said her husband would visit the San Francisco Bay area soon, but she would not elaborate.

Willson was struck by the train Tuesday during the anti-war protest at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, 45 miles east of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the commander of the Naval Seas Systems Command has ordered an investigation into the incident, said Dan Tikalsky, public affairs officer for the weapons station.

Tikalsky said the Navy civilian train crew remained at work, but the train had not been used since the incident because it had not been needed.

Protest organizers are expecting a large turnout for Saturday’s demonstration at the base.

Speakers will include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a likely presidential candidate, who is ″deeply disturbed″ at the the injury to Willson, said Lyle Wing, a California campaign worker for Jackson.

″We have 10 lines that are handling calls about the demonstration,″ said Stephanie Troyan of the Pledge of Resistance organization, part of the coalition that has been protesting alleged arms shipments from the base.

Troyan said the hospital where Willson was recuperating had been deluged with calls of support at a rate of 200 per hour and her group had received calls from as far as France, Switzerland and West Germany.

Willson’s condition at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek was upgraded to fair on Friday, and he was removed from the intensive care unit, said spokeswoman Eileen White.

Besides Jackson, other speakers will include anti-war activist Daniel Ellsburg; Miriam Linder, sister of Benjamin Linder, an engineer killed in Nicaragua earlier this year; Holly Rauen, Willson’s wife; and several fellow veterans who were with Willson when the train ran over him. Willson has said his experience in Vietnam led him to become actively involved in protesting U.S. policies in Central America.

Six protesters were arrested Thursday when they blockaded a munitions truck next to the base. The protesters were later released on their own recognizance, except for one minor, who was cited with a ticket.

Several San Francisco Bay area congressmen have criticized the Navy over the injury to Willson. Four House members have sent Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger a letter requesting a full investigation.

Rep. Barbara Boxer said Thursday that she was shocked to learn that four Navy-affiliated observers responsible for stopping the train failed to do so before it slammed into Willson.

Boxer, a San Francisco Democrat, said the commander informed her there were two civilian observers on board the train and two on the ground as the train moved toward the protesters on the tracks. The observers on the ground were in radio contact with the civilian engineer. All the observers worked with the Navy.

The incident is under investigation by the Navy and by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department.

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