News / USA

Iraq Unrest Stirs Emotions in US Veterans

Iraq War Vets Reflect on Mission Amid Continuing Unresti
X
June 20, 2014 3:03 AM
As the Iraqi government tries to regain control of parts of the country occupied by militants seeking to create an Islamic state, some U.S. veterans of the Iraq War are reflecting on their service and sacrifice. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Kane Farabaugh
Paris, Illinois is a patriotic town awash in red, white and blue. American Legion Post Commander Tom Noel said it’s been that way since the Iraq War began in 2003.
 
“Instantly, the flag sales went up, you see flags flying everywhere,” said Noel.
 
Noel said that while the patriotism has not faded, the mood did change in 2004, when news of the mounting casualties from the town’s Illinois National Guard unit - the 1544th Transportation Company - starting filtering in.
 
“Five right here from our unit, right next door, all at once, that was a real shock,” recalled Noel.
 
Army Sergeant First Class Jeremy Deters served in Iraq with 1544th Transportation Company.  He is still with the unit. The cost of the 8-year long war is clear to him. He lost five friends in that mortar attack near Baghdad in 2004, including Sergeant Shawna Morrison, the first female Illinois National Guard soldier to die in the conflict.
 
“We heard the mortars falling went over there and saw what had happened and everything,” said Deters. “You come to terms with it, but it never leaves you.
 
“I think about my colleagues, my comrades, my brothers in arms every day,” said Kristopher Skinner, another veteran.
 
Skinner served as a U.S. army officer near Mosul, an area now under the control of ISIL militants.
 
“Seeing what’s happening there, it almost feels as if some folks gave their lives in vain. It’s hard not to consider it, especially now. But that’s a freedom, I guess that’s a liberty that I have because I came back and I am still here safely,” said Skinner.
 
Marine Sergeant Michael Hjelmstad spent part of three deployments to the region training the Iraqi National Army, which has suffered dramatic defeats in recent weeks.
 
“It is hard to watch them struggle and to know that maybe some of those guys [we] were training are the ones getting killed right now,” said Hjelmstad.
 
In a training environment using lessons learned from two combat tours in Iraq, Sergeant Deters now prepares a new generation of soldiers for the harsh realities of war.
 
He doesn't second-guess past decisions. Deters said that instead, he focuses on the mission ahead and passing on information that could help save lives in the future.
 
“We can’t just let the future generations go in it blind and not know what’s going to happen. Myself and the others that have stayed in, it’s because we believe it’s our job to pass on the knowledge, because we believe in it,” said Deters.
 
And if they are called to serve again, Tom Noel says they will return to a town that continues to be grateful for their service.
 
“We regret that we had to give lives, but to give service, there is no regret,” said Noel.
 
But a constant reminder of the cost of the Iraq War exists behind Noel’s American Legion hall… a baseball field named in honor of Shawna Morrison.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid