In a meeting Friday with Marine Corps families whose loved ones are stationed in the Persian Gulf, U.S. Sen. John Seymour (R-Calif.) said he was encouraged by their spirit and discussed concerns ranging from child-care problems to skyrocketing telephone bills amassed in long-distance calls to Saudi Arabia.
Seymour's 45-minute meeting with about 30 family members was closed to reporters at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which has been rocked by the recent suicide of a high-ranking officer under investigation for alleged misuse of a military plane.
The newly appointed senator and former Anaheim mayor said he also met with Brig. Gen. Tom Adams for about 30 minutes during which they "shared concern and shock" over Col. James E. Sabow's death. He said they did not discuss the investigation, which also extends to Col. Joseph E. Underwood and his alleged use of the plane to attend golfing excursions.
Of his meeting with the families at the air station's NCO Club, Seymour said he found the Marine spouses and their children to be ably handling their stressful situations.
"It was very upbeat," he said outside the club. "They are highly motivated and resigned to the fact that this is what they signed up for. But that is not to say that they are not fearful. Sure they are. I told them, 'I want you to know that the American people are proud of you.' "
During the session, he said, one woman with five children expressed "real problems" with child care. He said the woman, also a Marine, shared household duties with her husband before he was shipped to the gulf.
Another woman, Seymour said, had rung up a $400 phone bill during the past two weekends in long-distance calls from her husband in Saudi Arabia. The senator said he would be "looking into" the family problems and offered help to the woman if she found trouble negotiating the payment of her telephone bill.
Commenting about present military operations in the gulf, Seymour said the reported success rate of U.S.-led air strikes against Iraqi targets has been "extraordinary."
"I'm telling you that we can all be . . . proud of the contributions (the troops) are making," he said. "I can tell you that as far as the level of intensity of air strikes are concerned, we are prepared to continue that for as long as it takes."
As a new member of the Senate, Seymour said he would not support tax increases to pay for the nation's involvement in the war but would seek additional contributions from the allies to offset the cost. He said more must be done in seeking out contributions such as those pledged from Kuwait and Japan.
"Now is not the time to raise taxes," he said. "I expect we will be in a recession when we come out of this. You don't reach into people's pockets when there is less there to begin with."