Navy veteran protests US military in Afghanistan

Standing over jammed traffic at 7 a.m. in the biting cold, Todd Boyle’s got a captive audience. And from the sound of things, more than a few motorists support his view that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan.

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2009 5:32pm
  • Life
Kirkland residents Todd Boyle and Margie Ostle wave a sign about Interstate 405 on a recent morning that states their opposition to the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Kirkland residents Todd Boyle and Margie Ostle wave a sign about Interstate 405 on a recent morning that states their opposition to the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Standing over jammed traffic at 7 a.m. in the biting cold, Todd Boyle’s got a captive audience. And from the sound of things, more than a few motorists support his view that the US needs to get out of Afghanistan.

Every week for the last six years, Boyle, 56, has become a familiar sight to motorists passing through Kirkland on Interstate 405. He uses his bike to roll down to an overpass above the freeway and waves a large placard that states his opposition to the US military presence – until recently – in Iraq. But a few months ago, Boyle switched the sign for a new one: “U.S. Out of Afghanistan”.

“Something like 10,000 people will see this sign in the one-and-a-half hours that I’m here,” he said.

Standing with fellow supporter and resident Margie Ostle, the pair waved to the passing motorists for honks of support. He said about 80 percent of the honks and gestures were positive.

“Every once in a while someone will pass by, ‘flipping the bird,’” he said. “I just say, keep your hands on the wheel, buddy!”

Boyle said he’s a veteran of the Navy in the 1970s and worked afterwards for the military as a contractor, performing audits.

He called recently announced plans to raise troop levels in Afghanistan by 17,000 soldiers “unjust, unwise and unnecessary.”

“It’s stupid, all of these occupations,” he said.

Boyle said he started displaying the sign over I-405 in 2003 as the anti-war movement against Iraq was reaching it’s height. A few weeks before in February, an estimated 6 to 10 million people world wide gathered to protest the imminent war in Iraq. The single largest anti-war demonstration on-record of an estimated 3 million people took place in Rome, Italy. But he said the enthusiasm for protest declined quickly following the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003.

“They got used to it, the Iraq War,” he said.

But despite the small numbers of visible protesters today, Boyle said it was important that he make a statement every week on the 100th Street pedestrian bridge.

“Even (former Secretary of Defense) Bob McNamara said ‘We were wrong, we were terribly wrong’ (about Vietnam),” he said.

Locally, peace activists took stock of the Obama administration’s new plans during a March 6-8 Northwest Regional Conference held by anti-war organization Veterans for Peace at at the Northlake Unitarian Church. The discussion focused on the decreasing military operations in Iraq, increasing troop deployments to Afghanistan and featured Anti-globalization author and Bainbridge Island resident David Korten as a keynote speaker.

The closest anti-war demonstration to Kirkland will take place in Seattle on March 22 from noon to 2 p.m. The peace march, intended to mark the 6th year of US forces in Iraq, will follow route from Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill to Victor Steinbrueck Park near Pike Place Market.

The march is sponsored and organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

By any estimate, the cost of the military intervention in Iraq is staggering. According to recent United Nations estimates, the number of Iraqis killed from 2003 to 2006 invasion concluded that about 151,000 Iraqis died from violence. Several other studies speculate the range to be between 91,000 to more than 600,000. Another U.N. report estimates the war uprooted 4.7 million Iraqis through April 2008, of which two million had fled to neighbouring countries.

Regarding the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom, econonmist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes estimated a $3 trillion price tag, not including expenses related to the military’s involvement in Afghanistan. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office estimate for the costs of the military involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq (including interest payments) at $2.4 trillion.

The U.S. military reports at least 4,257 deaths and at least 67,000 diseased or wounded personnel in Iraq. That number does not count the tens of thousands of other veterans now seeking treatment for various ailments that are not immediately recognized or listed as injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to a Washington Post database called faces of the fallen, 105 state residents have died in Iraq. Of that number, four are listed as Kirkland residents: Spc. Jacob Herring, 20, Lance Cpl. Nathan R. Wood, 19, Pfc. Andrew Martin O’francia Ward, 25 and Lance Cpl. Shane C. Swanberg, 24.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

The Kirkland Arts Center - Reporter file photo
Meet Ashlie Beach, Executive Director of the Kirkland Arts Center

Here’s a Q&A with Ashlie Beach, Executive Director of the Kirkland Arts… Continue reading

The Better Half hazy pale is a collaboration of Crucible Brewing - Woodinville Forge, Imperial Yeast and Skagit Valley Malting. Photo courtesy of Eastside Beer Week’s Facebook page
Eastside Beer Week returns July 23

Eastside Beer Week returns for a second year beginning this month, and… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S
Car review: 2021 Mercedes AMG E63 S sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor The latest incarnation of the Mercedes AMG E63… Continue reading

2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus
Car review: 2021 Mazda3 Premium Plus

By Larry Lark, contributor The Mazda3 has always looked the part of… Continue reading

2021 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Trail Special Edition
Car review: 2021 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 Trail Special Edition

By Larry Lark, contributor If the great outdoors is your playground, it… Continue reading

Car review: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line
Car review: 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line

By Larry Lark, contributor Sometimes it’s better to zig when the competition… Continue reading

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Kia Sorento X-Line AWD

By Larry Lark, contributor Kia’s fourth-generation Sorrento sports utility vehicle is a… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes Benz GLB250 4MATIC. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes Benz GLB250 4MATIC

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 GLB250 4MATIC is a brand-spanking new… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor In the overcrowded SUV market niche, if you’re… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

By Larry Lark, contributor How do you top the 2021 Dodge Durango… Continue reading

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD
Car review: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD

By Larry Lark, contributor If you want something truly special, get in… Continue reading

2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige
Car review: 2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T Prestige is… Continue reading