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San Antonio Express News - August 7


Gary Martin
San Antonio Express-News Washington Bureau

CRAWFORD — The mother of a Fort Hood soldier killed in Iraq continued a vigil Sunday on the rural road leading to President Bush's Central Texas ranch and vowed to remain until she meets with the commander in chief.

"I'm calling it the peaceful occupation of Crawford," said Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., who wants Bush to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Army Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, 24, was killed April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Baghdad, when his unit of eight soldiers came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment with the 1st Cavalry out of Fort Hood.

The angry mother of the fallen soldier, along with about 10 activists from Code Pink, Gold Star Families for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, spent the night in tents and cars about 3 miles from the presidential compound.

With temperatures near the century mark, the group was trying to stay cool below the few shade trees that line the open prairie road leading to Bush's home.

"It's hot in Iraq," Sheehan said. "If they can do what they are doing, we can do this."

The group's compound was marked by anti-war banners and prayer flags. Sheehan said they planned a candlelight vigil and other rallies during the weeks that Bush will be on vacation here.

Sheehan met Saturday with the White House deputy chief of staff and the president's national security adviser, who promised to relay her concerns to Bush.

That meeting did not satisfy Sheehan, who said she continues to grapple emotionally with the loss of her son.

"They're not George Bush," she said. "That's who I came out to see."

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gmartin@express-news.net

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