By David Stevens: CNJ Editor
A man who claims responsibility for the closecannon.com Web site says he started it because eastern New Mexico does not show enough support for the military.
He said he will not identify himself out of respect for family members who live in Clovis. He said he has been in the Air Force for 11 1/2 years and was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base for 4 1/2 years before being transferred a little more than a year ago.
He refused to say where he lives now.
In a telephone interview Wednesday — he responded to an e-mail from earlier this week asking for the interview — he said he’s in Clovis this week to visit his two children and will attend the regional Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s public hearing Friday morning.
He said he has no plans to cause “problems” but before he leaves will distribute T-shirts and bumper stickers promoting the Web site. He claimed the merchandise was donated by a Clovis man, whom he also declined to identify.
He said he’s debating if he wants to pass out the merchandise while BRAC commissioners are in town, “but I can foresee a lot of arguments if I do. I’ll guess that I won’t because I don’t want any problems. But it will be out in the weeks to come.”
The man, who said he’s 31 and from Binghamton, N.Y., declared that he is “staying neutral” on Cannon’s closing, despite what many think. He said Clovis-area efforts to keep the base open “made me sick,” and so he started the Web site.
He said he saw only two “support our troops” signs in Clovis in the days following Sept. 11, 2001. “There were many ‘God bless America’ and ‘United we stand’ signs, but ‘Support our troops?’ No, there wasn’t. I did lose two family members on Sept. 11, so that’s what’s pissed me off the most,” he said.
Similar remarks posted on his Web site have angered many Cannon supporters.
“Oh, please,” said Steve Deleon after reading the site’s contention that the Clovis-area did not support military personnel after 9/11. “That is totally untrue. There were all these stickers — I still have one on my truck — that said Clovis supports our troops. There were thousands of them all over on vehicles, on (store) windows.
“It hurt when that guy wrote that stuff.”
Deleon, 46, said he retired from Cannon in 1999 after 20 years in the Air Force and stayed in Clovis because of how he was treated.
“What really impressed me when I got to Cannon was the way the community treated Air Force guys. I felt they treated us with a lot of respect. They welcomed us. That’s one of the reasons I stayed here. Most of my family is in Florida, but I stayed here because I liked it.”
Deleon said he has a lot of contact with Cannon personnel today and while “you get those who say, ‘Man there’s nothing to do here,’ he believes far more Cannon personnel enjoy the community.
“The unmarried are not as happy, but I think the people with families, I think they like it here.”