A United States veteran-turned-principal is getting tough on cyberbullies at his school, vowing to root out the “cowards” and punish them, after about two dozen students were targeted through a Twitter account.

Joshua Romano, principal of Murdock Middle/High School in Winchendon, Mass., logged on to the school's Twitter account to warn perpetrators who attacked some students' sexuality and appearance.

"I've been doing this for 17 years," Romano told CBS News. "I've seen the damage that bullying can do to children."

"I've seen the damage that bullying can do to children."

- Principal Joshua Romano

He called the posts "vile and ignorant." He also sent an email to the school's roughly 700 students calling the cyberbullies "pathetic cowards."

The Iraq War veteran said the cyberbullies were worse than the insurgents because at least they didn't hide behind anonymity.

The Twitter accounts have since been deleted.

In hindsight, Romano, who says he is more “teddy bear than grizzly bear,” told CBS he wishes his email would have been less harsh, but some parents lauded the tough approach.

"I thought it was great," said Florence LaFrennie. "If maybe more people stuck up maybe less kids would get bullied and less bad things would happen."

Police have told Romano that the Twitter posts do not add up to criminal harassment, but the principal is still looking to hand out suspensions.

Romano says his motivation for weeding out the bullies, in part, is the memory of Phoebe Prince, who killed herself in South Hadley, Mass., five years ago after classmates bullied her.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.