Lively bar chatter ceased at Dr. Bullie's Food and Spirits in nearby Hinesville as the bartender focused the big screen television on CNN's live report of the ground war commencing Saturday night in the Persian Gulf.

But the news seemed to surprise no one.``I knew Saddam wasn't going to talk and President Bush wasn't going to accept the Soviets' proposal,' said Greg Herbert of Walthourville, an activated National Guard sergeant. ``I don't think they should have waited any longer. They gave Saddam more chances than anyone could have wanted.'

His wife, Teri, backed her husband all the way.

``It's no surprise to me,' she said. ``Saddam is crazy, and something has to be done. You don't know if in six months or a year he could come up with something else, like nuclear weapons to come here.'

She said she's not scared to be left alone with her 12-year-old daughter if her husband is sent to the gulf.

Her father, Bobby Hughes of Riceboro, said, ``I'm worried about all of them, but I think Bush did the right thing. If I were old enough, I'd volunteer. Freedom is a wonderful thing, and you've got to fight for it.'

The wife of an army surgeon on duty in Saudi Arabia had mixed feelings.

``There's a mixture of fear, almost a relief because maybe there'll be an end to all of it, then you go back to fear again,' Margot Hall said.

Her husband, Lt. Col. Johnny Benjamin Hall, is a division surgeon with the 24th Infantry.

Dick Malick, 58, a Hinesville restaurant owner, said he knew the ground war had begun, but he wouldn't tell his customers until they were leaving.

``I want them to enjoy their dinner before they find out,' he said.

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