Scott: The last U.S. troops left Iraq two years ago, and violence has been growing in the region ever since, and now reaching its highest levels in years. Maggie Rulli has more.
Maggie: Scott, over the course of just one day this week, attacks near Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad have killed at least fifty-two people. Soldiers who fought in the war in Iraq – which lasted nearly nine years – say they are in shock.
Matt Gallagher: Just because we’re not in Iraq anymore doesn’t mean that their war is over.
Maggie: Matt Gallagher was deployed to Iraq as part of a surge in troops in 2007 that successfully restored security in western Iraq.
Gallagher: Never in my wildest dreams did I think only two years after we withdrew would we be having this conversation.
Maggie: Like Gallagher, many Marines were shocked to learn that earlier this month the city of Fallujah was taken over by al-Qaeda. In 2004, nearly 100 Marines and soldiers were killed in action while liberating the city. Many considered it the Marine’s most iconic fight in Iraq. And now, they are stunned by its fall.
Gallagher: This spot on the map right here is actually where we were ambushed on December 23rd.
Maggie: Nearly ten years ago, Marine Corporal Jeremiah Workman and his team were inspecting homes for weapons in Fallujah. He and seven of his men were attacked by about two dozen insurgents. Three of the Marines were killed.
Jeremiah Workman: I was the leader of those guys going in there, and it’s tough. I mean, you don’t think it’s going to happen to you.
Maggie: Workman served in the Marines for eight years. He left in 2009. Today, Workman thinks about the sacrifices of his team.
Workman: I’m heartbroken. I’m nauseous. My stomach hurts all the time since the news broke and it’s mainly because I think of the families of those fallen Marines and soldiers, and thinking and wondering why and how, and my son or daughter paid the ultimate sacrifice. And for what?
Maggie: This month, the White House said it will send aid to Iraqi security forces. But despite the al-Qaeda gains in cities like Fallujah, they have no plans to send more troops.
For Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, achieving stability will be a long-term process that involves more than just military might.
Richard Myers: We have the diplomatic instrument, the political instrument, the economic instrument. I think all of those have to play in bringing about the kind of help that we need to provide to Iraq.
Maggie: Today, the community of veterans is left asking what more they could have done, and if their sacrifices were worth it.
Gallagher: Wars are so rarely worth it. But, that said, it doesn’t mean that the sacrifices American soldiers and Marines made weren’t profound, because they were. I saw it every day.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Scott: If you want to support the men and women who served in Iraq, visit our Medal of Honor page at Channelone.com.