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'I'm Going to Name My Next Boy Ollie' : Thousands of Wires Hail North as a Hero

July 11, 1987|GLENN F. BUNTING | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — "Ollie for President."

"Ollie, Christians 2. Lions 0."

"I'm going to name my next boy Ollie."

If the thousands of telegrams sent to Capitol Hill are any indication, Americans have joined President Reagan in idolizing their new national hero, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the former White House aide who has admitted during four days of congressional testimony that he lied to government officials to conceal his efforts to sell arms to Iran and to aid Nicaragua's rebels.

Altogether, North said he has received "thousands and thousands" of letters and telegrams. Doctors, lawyers, laborers and housewives from all parts of the country are giving North overwhelming support and urging him, in the words of a writer from Mission Viejo, Calif., to "give 'em hell, Ollie."

"I am watching you on TV from a hospital bed," wrote Martin Shobris, a physician from Oak Lawn, Ill. "All patients are with you. (Congress is) not interested in the truth."

College students working in Washington this summer skipped their lunch hour Friday to organize an "Interns for Ollie" rally. A group of Young Americans for Freedom chanted: "Ollie North, he's our man, he's the hero of our land."

North's attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., appeared at Friday's hearing with a 12-inch stack of telegrams that had been delivered to his client just that morning.

North said he has been showered with thousands of such letters all week. After his testimony on Wednesday, he thanked Americans for expressing their support and urged them to keep the letters coming.

Reporters searching through the hundreds of telegrams on Friday found only three unfavorable ones. "I abhor your past actions and your political speeches during the hearing," wrote Hildred Pearson of Westfield, Ind.

The rest lauded North as "an American hero" and "a patriot" who deserves a Purple Heart--given only to those who have been wounded--for surviving "the crucifixion" on Capitol Hill.

And citizens are sending North monetary pledges. "God love you, son," wrote Mary Mitchell of Spring Valley, Calif. "Keep well. Money to follow."

Rep. William S. Broomfield (R-Mich.) said his colleagues on the Iran- contra investigating committees have received checks in the mail from constituents watching the proceedings on television. He joked during a break Friday that the committees ought to put an "Oliver North Defense Fund" sign in front of the Senate Caucus Room, where the hearings are being held.

'An American Hero'

"Right now, North is an American hero," Broomfield said. "Our phones are ringing off the hook. People have called for an address of where to send money."

North's supporters were not so kind to the investigating committees.

"Don't let the butchers in Congress overwhelm you," wrote Robert Williford of Andrews, N.C. "You have given America your all. Have any of those doing the sham investigating served their country one day to keep us safe and free?"

Cloud of Suspicion

North, who was fired from his National Security Council post by President Reagan, arrived at the hearings under a cloud of suspicion as the central figure in the Iran-contra affair. Particularly damaging was earlier testimony that he had profited personally from the sale of arms to Iran.

But over the last four days, his vigorous defense--"I never took a penny that didn't belong to me"--and his sharp exchanges with congressional interrogators have evoked much sympathy from daytime television viewers.

"I believe you," said a woman from Hemet, Calif., who called herself Grandma White. "You're doing wonderfully. Chin up. Kiss your wife, children. Pet your dog. I'm 81. Friends here believe you."

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