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.
    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.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora