Posted: Sept. 16, 2004


Dateline Kabul

Richard S. Gebelein heard a rocket attack his first night in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The Superior Court judge, who is an army colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, arrived in Kabul a week ago for what is expected to be a yearlong tour of duty. From his e-mail address of he wrote to Delaware Grapevine:

"This is my sixth day in Kabul. After a week at Fort Benning getting shots, equipment and proper vetting, those of us supporting Operation Enduring Freedom began our 48-hour trip to Afghanistan at 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6.

"Our flight would take us from Atlanta to Baltimore to Frankfurt to Incirlik, Turkey, and finally to Manas, Kyrgyzstan. We then boarded a smaller plane to make the flight to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. We arrived late on Sept. 8. The next day those of us moving to the Kabul area were transported by convoy and arrived in Kabul Thursday afternoon.  

"That evening after settling in for the night, I was awakened by a rocket attack. Apparently five rockets were launched at the airport, none of them came close to the target but instead they fell on the city, one not far from my billet.

"A few Afghans were injured by the attack. It probably explains why the majority of residents of Kabul hate the Taliban and the "foreigners" (Al Qaeda.) Most of the attacks cause damage and injury to the Afghan people and not to coalition forces.

"I have to mention that the very first person I met from the JAG in Afghanistan was Captain Wendal Hall, who it turns out is a native Delawarean. While he is currently living in Hawaii when he's not participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, he was raised in Delaware. His Dad had told him a judge from Delaware was coming over. 

"There is a lot to do in nation building here. This country has seen war for the past 25 years. The people deserve a chance to reclaim their country."

Rotary dials up Carney and Ursomarso

For a couple of candidates running for a statewide post with not much say about governing the state, Democratic Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr. and Republican James P. Ursomarso managed a surprisingly crisp debate.

They met Thursday at the Wilmington Rotary Club in their first joint engagement of the campaign season and Ursomarso’s first debate ever, taking turns answering questions in front of about 170 people.

Although Delaware elects its governor and lieutenant governor separately, both Carney and Ursomarso are the handpicked choices of the top of their tickets, Carney by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Ursomarso by William Swain Lee, and it showed.

They sounded like surrogates, often repeating word for word what their running mates have said about the concerns of the day.

Minner and Lee might as well have been standing there when Carney and Ursomarso were asked for their positions on House Bill 99, legislation that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I do support House Bill 99,” said Carney, elaborating as Minner always does that the measure provides for equal protection under the law for gay Delawareans, not special privileges. He predicted the bill would be passed.

“I think we have enough legal protections in place so House Bill 99 is not necessary,” said Ursomarso, echoing Lee’s statement that the law would create an unnecessary burden and expense for small businesses.

The two also were asked what they thought about running separately from the gubernatorial candidates, and they split here, as well.

Carney wants to leave the constitution as it is, letting the voters decide whether the governor and lieutenant governor should be from the same party.

Ursomarso wants the posts elected together, but he said changing the constitution would not be a priority in a Lee-Ursomarso administration.

One question, the first they were asked, appeared to throw them. Each was asked to describe his opponent’s greatest strengths.

“That is a very challenging question,” Carney quipped. He settled on Ursomarso’s academic and business background – Georgetown University, Duke University law school and the family-owned Union Park car dealerships.

Ursomarso went with the safest answer possible – Carney’s wife Tracey. There was no chance Carney was going to disagree with that. Besides, she was sitting right there.