Immigrant from Geramy fears America on wrong path

CAL-NEV-ARI -- Before this town 65 miles south of Las Vegas was founded in the 1960s, Gen. George S. Patton built an airfield here to train troops for World War II desert warfare against the Germans.

Today, a woman who was born in Germany and grew up to despise the militaristic bent of a country that plunged the world into two wars, lives in this community of 240 people and worries that her adopted homeland is following the path of the nation she left.

"Don't get me wrong, I love America," says Audi Chambers, who lives with her husband in a mobile home. "But I'm afraid we're getting priorities wrong. We're getting into wars like Vietnam and Iraq not to help people, but for power, for oil, for whatever."

Chambers, 67, a former union president at a nearby Laughlin resort, believes the money dedicated to America's war machine would be better spent on health care. Medicare doesn't cover most dental care for seniors, Chambers says.

"I have to go to Mexico for dental," says the grandmother, who came to the United States at 18 and whose German accent is still evident. She now works the register at the Palm Gardens Chevron, six miles south on U.S. Highway 95.

Residents all end up at the 24-hour casino here that doubles as the post office. Dennis Orndorff, a 58-year-old Vietnam veteran, is head chef at the casino's restaurant. He watches the people he cooks for so closely they often stare back.

"I enjoy watching people enjoy my food," he explains.

Orndorff, a supporter of Republican Ron Paul because of his anti-tax, small-government positions, says work will keep him from caucusing.

"If a candidate would talk more about getting energy from wind, he'd get my vote," he says. "I grew up on a farm, and we had a wind generator and it worked great."

As for Chambers, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, a strong union supporter, is the candidate she favors. She believes he's sincere about providing health care and stopping the war.

If she can get off work, she says, she will participate in the caucuses.

Regardless, she hopes whoever gets elected ends the war.

"I was a little girl when the Allied forces bombed Nuremberg. Everything was on fire, and I thought I was going to die. When you start wars, that's what can happen to you."