January 8

Reversals in hard-won Iraqi city vex veterans

The city’s recent fall to al-Qaida-linked forces has touched a nerve for the service members who fought and bled there.

By Allen G. Breed And Julie Watson
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004 file photo, soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division spread out documents and other objects on the floor while looking for evidence during a raid on an Iraqi house near Fallujah, Iraq. The owner of the house is suspected of being responsible for attacks on coalition forces. In 2014, the city’s fall to al-Qaida-linked forces has touched a nerve for the service members who fought and bled there.

The Åssociated Press

“I fear that Fallujah may be the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “It may be the start of a number of things that will cause these vets to wonder, ‘What was the point?’ They may start asking questions like, ‘Why did my friends have to die? Why am I the way I am? Why did I have to participate in something when the outcome is not what we see in the movies with the signing of an armistice like in WWII?”’

Some who lost loved ones have similar feelings.

“I’m starting to feel that his death was in vain,” says Shirley Parrello of West Milford, N.J., whose youngest son, Lance Cpl. Brian P. Parrello, 19, died in an explosion there on Jan. 1, 2005. “I’m hoping that I’m wrong. But things aren’t looking good over there right now.”

For his part, Shupp, the former colonel, is not convinced that many of those holding sway in Fallujah aren’t simply “armed thugs, criminal elements, out there pursuing their own self interests.” Even before the U.S.-led invasion, many Iraqis considered the city a “crossroads of criminal activity,” and his troops were never meant to be “an army of occupation.”

“It’s one of the lifetime struggles of good versus bad,” says Shupp, who now works as a defense lobbyist in Washington, D.C. “And this is the time for Iraq to come forward. We gave them all the tools. We gave them the ability to fight these guys.”

Watson reported from San Diego. Breed, a national writer, reported from Raleigh, N.C. Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., also contributed to this report.

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