As news of the speedy fall of northern Iraq into the hands of al-Qaida-linked insurgents flashes across the world, family members and friends of the 30 Mainers who died in the Iraq War are wondering whether the sacrifices their fallen loved ones made were worth it.

“It seems like it was all for nothing,” said Dixie Flagg of Avon in Franklin County, whose son, Sgt. Richard Parker, was killed in Iraq in 2007.

On Saturday, Flagg and other Mainers who lost family members in the Iraq War reacted to the stunning series of events that has extremist militants headed toward Baghdad.

John Gelineau of Buxton, the father of Spc. Christopher Gelineau, recalled that there was one consolation for him and other members of the family when they learned that the 23-year-old University of Southern Maine student was being deployed in 2004 to one of Iraq’s hot spots with the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard.

“He was a clerical worker and we thought he would sit out his tour of duty behind a desk,” John Gelineau said.

But just a couple of weeks into his tour, Gelineau was riding convoys across Mosul, and he was killed when a roadside bomb hit his truck.

Now, 10 years later, his family is once again trying to make sense of his death as insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria surged into Mosul last week on their way toward the Iraqi capital. John Gelineau said that in speeches he gave against the war after his son’s death, he predicted the fragile peace in Iraq would unravel.

“I said, ‘This is just such a waste,'” he recalled Saturday.

Some family members and friends of Mainers killed in the war said Saturday they have totally changed their thinking since those first few years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and no longer believe that going to war with Iraq was the answer.

Others said they would bomb Iraq again if it meant ending the turmoil there.

But all expressed a sense of bitterness and regret that the U.S. military’s accomplishments in the region have unraveled and the deaths of an estimated 4,480 U.S. service members may have been for naught.

“The situation is absolutely crazy. It was bound to happen. It is very frustrating,” said San Pao of Gorham, a retired Army staff sergeant who was riding behind Gelineau in the convoy that day in 2004.

Nancy Chamberlain of Winslow, the mother of Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin – one of the first Maine casualties in the Iraq War when his helicopter crashed in Kuwait in 2003 – said she does not know what her son would think of what is happening now in Iraq.

“Jay believed in what he was doing. I just know I am feeling extremely sad and a little bit angry,” Chamberlain said Saturday.

She said her grandchildren – Jay’s children – were 9 and 12 when he died. Now they are 20 and 23. He would have been 46 this year.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him,” Chamberlain said.

On Saturday, Flagg was marking the seventh anniversary of the death of her son, Richard. Parker was killed in action by an improvised explosive device while serving with the Army National Guard’s A Battery, 152nd Field Artillery.

She said family and friends would be dropping by throughout the day to remember her son – including her grandson, Keegan Parker, 7, who never met his father.

Flagg said her son believed in what he was doing.

She said the family keeps his memory alive through a college scholarship fund and The Stairway to Heaven, a stairway that links two parks in the town of Strong – both dedicated to soldiers killed in action, including her son.

Deanna and Paul House of Lee said Saturday that the latest events in Iraq have rekindled their anger at the death of their son, Sgt. Joel House, who was killed at age 22 in Taji, Iraq, in 2007 by an improvised explosive device while serving with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.

Deanna House said she is angry at Iraqi security forces for “turning around and running.” She said she is also angry at talk of sending U.S. troops back to Iraq – a course of action ruled out by President Obama last week.

“We have lost enough young men. I didn’t use to think that way,” House said.

She and her husband keep their son’s memory alive by organizing hunting and fishing retreats for military veterans and a camp scholarship fund for Maine children.

Paul House said he does not believe his son died in vain.

“They did help children go to school. Women were able to go out on the streets,” House said.

But he said he is very angry at Obama for pulling out of Iraq too soon.

Bill Emery, the father of the second soldier from Lee – a Penobscot County town with a population of 920 – to be killed in the Iraq War, said he can’t bear to follow events in Iraq.

“I try to listen to the news but I get so discouraged I turn it off,” Emery said Saturday.

His son, Cpl. Blair Emery, 24, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baqubah, Iraq, in 2007. He was a member of the 571st Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade.

“I used to think he had done a lot of good. Now I feel like it was done for nothing,” Emery said, his voice thick with emotion.

He said most people have forgotten about the war, but he and his family live it every day.

“At this point I don’t know what should be done, but I would like to see them bomb and pave it over like a parking lot. I don’t want to see any more American troops in harm’s way. Let someone else sort out the pieces,” Emery said.

John Gelineau said his son was skeptical about the mission in Iraq, but was determined to do his part. Yet, said Gelineau, in the end his son’s death was not a waste. Christopher Gelineau was working on a computer program that would have made most of the dangerous convoys across Mosul unnecessary.

“He almost had that up and running when he died. I understand someone else picked it up and made it happen after his death,” Gelineau said.

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