Iraq war vets reflect on recent Iraq violence

FILE - This file image posted on a militant news Twitter account on Thursday, June 12, 2014 shows militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) people raising their flag at the entrance of an army base in Ninevah Province. Iraq. Days after Iraq?s second-largest city fell to al-Qaida-inspired fighters, some Iraqis are already returning to Mosul, lured back by insurgents offering cheap gas and food, restoring power and water and removing traffic barricades. (AP Photo/albaraka_news, File)

MENASHA – Disturbing, depressing and frustrating. Those are just some of the feelings Iraq War veteran David Lehrer says he feels, as he reads and sees news reports of violence ripping through northern Iraq.

"I enlisted January 2001,” said Lehrer, as he sat in Jackson Park in Menasha Sunday. “Doing whatever they needed for support."

Lehrer says he worked as a Marine Corps HVAC engineer on a base near Fallujah in 2004. It wasn’t long after he arrived Lehrer says he traded his wrench for a rifle.

"Bloody,” said Lehrer of the militant insurgency he experienced. “There's no words to describe it."

Despite the horrors, Lehrer says you knew what you were fighting for, and the Iraqi 2006 democratic elections gave him hope.

"For the people to have their own say in who is their leader, that was amazing," said Lehrer. "It was a feeling that we'd done something."

But as the instability and violence in Iraq grows today in the same cities Lehrer and other forces fought to restore peace during the 8 year Iraq War, Lehrer has trouble finding words to describe how he feels.

One thing he’s sure of, he wishes a larger number of U.S. forces had stayed behind to guarantee the work.

"Everything I'm seeing on the media, as far as what's going on over there, it's quite disturbing,” said Lehrer. "How much money was dumped? How much time - how many lives were lost? Just everything endured for nothing."

Veteran Michael Seering sees it differently.

"You've got to cut off that tie sometime, you've got to give that country back to the people," said Seering, a retired Major with the U.S. Army Reserves.

"Even when I left in 2004, there was talk in the army – widespread – that eventually there was going to be a civil war of some sort," said Seering – who lives in Green Bay. "Some struggle for power, as soon as the Americans left."

But Seering, who was in charge of an Army supply base near Mosul, says the American blood spilled on Iraqi soil was not in vain.

"They're heroes, they were being asked to do their job. And that's what's so neat about the people that serve our country."

Their job was to protect the innocent people in Iraq.

"There are people that want to live their lives like normal people," Seering said.

Lehrer agrees.

“They are just regular people, like us, stuck in the middle and all they want to do is live their life," said Lehrer.

Now, the question is, for how long.

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