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MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Richard's Coffee Shop on North Main Street in Mooresville is much more than a neighborhood café.

It is a museum of military memorabilia and a gathering place for veterans who come in to eat or just to talk to someone else who has shared similar experiences.

Today the talk at Richard's was about the U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

"Personally, I think that we should stay out of it," said Ray Adams, a veteran of the U.S. Army, who added, "They've been fighting for years. How long are we going to stay there?"

Melinda Sneary is a former Marine who agreed. "It's past time. When I have friends that have been deployed four and five times, how many times do you think their guardian angels are going to watch over them?"

Chris Van Aller is an expert on international relations who now teaches political science at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.

He believes what is happening in Iraq was destined from the beginning because the U.S. went in with too little thought about what would happen as the military begins to pull out.

"Essentially when we went into Iraq we destabilized it and so now these forces are becoming so powerful that it is hard to control them," he said.

Back at Richard's, Art Rogers stopped in.

He is 88 now and once worked on the Manhattan Project that gave birth to the atomic bomb.

He is a proud Navy vet but feels the leadership of the military is failing the troops on the ground.

"If I had a child ready to go into the service, I'd tell him to think twice about it," he said.

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