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Trump Supporters React To Syria Airstrikes


Thursday night's missile strike in Syria has raised the specter of the U.S. becoming more heavily involved in the Middle East conflict, which is not what President Trump campaigned on. Chas Sisk with member station WPLN visited one city in Tennessee where any decision to escalate could have a profound impact.

CHAS SISK, BYLINE: The black POW-MIA flag flies prominently in front of city hall in Clarksville, Tenn., right below the American flag and above the state flag. It's one of the many ways Clarksville shows it's a military town. Steve Tyrrell is starting his Saturday on the town square in the Yada Yada coffee shop. He's a supporter of Trump.

STEVE TYRRELL: I'm a conservative Republican. I do think he's a loose cannon, and he makes me very, very nervous. But I do think he loves the country.

SISK: Tyrrell runs a vintage home goods store with his partner. Some of their friends are stationed just a few miles from downtown Clarksville at Fort Campbell. Tyrrell thinks Trump did the right thing in Syria.

TYRRELL: Well, I think we have a responsibility as being a world power - the world power - to somewhat police.

SISK: But for an opposing view, he doesn't have to look any farther than across the table. There sits Karla Gervais, a friend visiting from Maryland. She's formerly with the Air Force, having been stationed at NORAD in Colorado.

KARLA GERVAIS: I'm of the mind that it's a wag-the-dog thing. He's trying to get attention away from Russia.

SISK: Many people say they're trying to get a fix on Trump's change of heart over intervening in Syria. He says the strikes were motivated by images of people, especially children, suffering the effects of chemical attacks. But it's not clear whether he will go any further. Just before Thursday's missile strike, he was asked whether he would consider sending troops abroad.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, one of the things I think you've noticed about me is militarily I don't like to say where I'm going and what I'm doing.

SISK: That doesn't bother Shane. He didn't want to give his last name because he's active duty and not authorized to speak to the press. Shane was enjoying a warm, spring day in Clarksville's Liberty Park. Like a lot of people here, he believes the chemical weapon attack necessitated some sort of response, and he's willing to go overseas if need be.

SHANE: I mean, it's just - it comes with the job. You join. Wherever they want to send us, you know, I'm to serve with my country. So wherever my country needs me is where - exactly where I'm going to go.

SISK: Shane has been stationed abroad twice before in Afghanistan. There, he says, he saw troops on the ground create goodwill among people who distrusted their government. A similar sentiment was expressed by Abdul Majed. The 20 year old was playing pickup soccer with a mix of active duty personnel and civilians. Majed is originally from Iraq, and his father and brother are in the U.S. military. He would support military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Majed blames for the chemical weapons attacks.

ABDUL MAJED: He's been killing a lot of innocent kids and all that, and I don't like it. I've seen a lot of things in Iraq that happened, and he's not a good man at all.

SISK: Majed is now a naturalized citizen. He didn't vote for Trump in November, but the action in Syria has him thinking better of the president. For NPR News, I'm Chas Sisk in Clarksville, Tenn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.