TODAY’S FOCUS: Americans Happy, British More Reserved
LAKENHEATH, England (AP) _ Joyan Trubiano, wife of a U.S. Air Force sergeant stationed here, stood at the fence around Lakenheath base after the American F-111 fighter-bombers came back from Libya Tuesday, and said: ″Is it so bad that I feel proud?″
But Sheena Arnold, cleaning woman at the Half Moon pub in the village of Lakenheath near the base, was subdued. Her 14-year-old daughter Clare had gone to school frightened to tears, she said. ″Maybe we don’t understand it, but it does frighten us,″ said the 38-year-old Englishwoman.
Mrs. Trubiano’s pride and Mrs. Arnold’s misgivings reflected the differing sentiments of many Americans and Britons over the U.S. bombing raid on Libya.
Thirteen hours earlier, 18 F-111s had taken off from the Suffolk countryside base on their 6,400-mile round-trip. By 8:52 a.m., 16 of the sleek khaki-and-green jets were back. One had made an emergency landing in Spain and another was unaccounted for, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
The people of Lakenheath have learned to live with the constant drone and scream of warplanes at Lakenheath and neighboring Mildenhall bases. Over the weekend there were increased takeoffs and landings by F-111s and the KC-10A tankers from which they refueled in midflight.
But the U.S. Air Force insisted this was part of a NATO exercise code-named Salty Nation, and not a deception to hide the planned bombing attack.
The exercise wound down at Mildenhall about the time the F-111s took off for Libya on Monday but it was continuing Tuesday at Upper Heyford, headquarters of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, an Air Force spokesman said.
This prompted Libyan claims that another attack was being prepared. Libya was threatening retaliation against those, like Britain, who abetted the bombing, and some Lakenheath villagers were worried that they might suffer Libyan retaliation.
Irene Savory, 55, said it reminded her how close Lakenheath was ″to the firing line.″
Mrs. Trubiano, 27, of Yorba Linda, Calif., said she went to the fence after hearing the F-111s fly over her nearby home. Her husband, David, is a technical sergeant at the base.
She wondered aloud about her feeling of pride and added, as she gazed across the runway: ″I’ve been going through a whole mix of emotions all morning - anger at (Libyan leader Col. Moammar) Khadafy, and anger at the European public and politicians for saying we’re the bad guys.″
Mrs. Savory, who remembers the American servicemen stationed in Britain during World War II, said: ″If England did have any allies it would always be the Americans. The customs are very similar. But we do go about things a bit differently. We like the avenue of law and order and diplomacy ...
″I do think you Americans could have thought of a better way to do it.″
At the main gate of the base, which is the headquarters of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, two local men mounted a lonely protest in the drizzle.
″I’m protesting against what the Americans did last night. I’m a pacifist. I don’t agree with terrorism or Khadafy but I don’t see that he (Reagan) has accomplished anything. He has just made the situation worse,″ said Nigel Starnes, 24.
He said he had been asked by the Lakenheath branch of the opposition Labor Party to stage the protest, and carried a placard saying: ″Flaky Reagan, Mad Dog of NATO.″
Military police, armed and wearing combat gear, checked all cars entering Lakenheath base. At Mildenhall, headquarters of the 3rd U.S. Air Force, a car was being sniffed by a dog trained to scent explosives.
All personnel entering the base were given a pamphlet titled ″Threatcom″ in which the base commander, Col. Joe G. Cabuk, warned: ″The terrorist threat in our area is rated as being low ... However, due to the fluid nature of international terrorism, that threat could change in a matter of minutes.″
In the Bob Hope Recreation Center in Mildenhall base, a U.S. television newscast was screened for about 50 servicemen and their families. There was a ripple of approving laughter as a U.S. Navy man in Florida told the interviewer that if Khadafy retaliates, ″we’ll kick his ... ″