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Apr 24,2007
Some upset by Virginia military exercises
by UPI

RICHMOND, Va. - A Richmond, Va., group asked the governor to seek cancellation of a military exerciseheld in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre.

But the U.S. Marine Corps urban training exercises, which included the discharge of blank ammunition and the use of low-flying helicopters, went ahead as scheduled Thursday through Sunday, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reported.

"It's just so completely inappropriate," Phil Wilayto, spokesman for the group Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, told the newspaper. "You wouldn't go out and set off a pop gun now, with everyone freaked out. You wouldn't do it out of respect for the victims."

A spokesman for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said officials never considered canceling the training for 2,200 soldiers. "The planning for the exercise goes back almost a year," he said.

A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said the exercise fell at "the very end of a difficult week."

"This (request) would have gone to (the Department of) Public Safety. And those folks have obviously given 110 percent to the Virginia Tech situation," Kevin Hall said. "If the intent of the exercise ultimately is to keep Virginians and Americans safe, we don't necessarily see a problem with the exercise proceeding."

Copyright ©  2007, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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