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Last updated 7:26PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Area Folks Touched By War Comment on 5th Anniversary
(2008-03-14)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Next Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
In that five years support for the war has dwindled.
But that's not necessarily so for some from our area, who have been, or are currently being touched by the war.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

GEER: SOME DAYS IT SEEMS LIKE IT'S ONLY BEEN TWO DAYS, SOME DAYS IT SEEMS LIKE IT'S BEEN FOREVER, AND YOU JUST, YOU JUST KEEP GOING.
For Harold Geer of Cortez, the war in Iraq struck home three years ago.
His 27-year old son, Army Private First Class George Geer was killed by a truck bomb in Ramadi, Iraq January 17th, 2005.
GEER: IT CATCHES YOU BY SURPRISE WHEN YOU FIND THAT IT HAS BEEN THREE YEARS, YOU DEAL WITH IT AND YOU GO ON, BUT IT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE.
George Geer died almost two years into the Iraq war, which began March 20th, 2003.
Go online and google the words Iraq War Polls.
What you get are almost 900-thousand hits, most of which say things like, "war was a mistake," "opposition to war at an all time high," and "Americans say war is not worth it."
Some polls suggest support for the Iraq war dropped faster than during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.
Yet four Southwest Colorado residents I spoke with who have been directly touched by the Iraq war say it would be a mistake to walk away.
PETERSON: I FEEL LIKE WE PUT IN A BUNCH OF HARD WORK OVER THERE, AND I'VE LOST SOME BUDDIES AND STUFF TO JUST LET IT FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS AND EVERYTHING.
23-year old Trevor Peterson of Durango is now a Fort Lewis College Student.
On March 20th 2003, at the age of 18, Peterson was with the 101st Airborne 2nd battalion infantry division invading Iraq.
PETERSON: WE WERE ONE OF THE LAST OF THE ORIGINAL UNITS THAT INVADED THE COUNTRY, TO LEAVE. AND WE WERE BEING TOLD WE'D BE BACK BY LIKE JULY FOURTH, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT FOR A BIG HOMECOMING PARADE. ALMOST ELEVEN MONTHS LATER WE FINALLY CAME BACK. AT FIRST THOUGH I DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD BE THAT LONG AND I WAS REALLY SURPRISED THAT IT'S BEEN THIS LONG.
Petersons cousin, 24-year old Durango Native Zach Carpino just returned in February from Iraq.
CARPINO: IT WAS GOOD, IT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE IN MY LIFE CONSIDERING I CAME BACK WITH ALL MY LEGS AND ARMS. I LOST A LOT OF FRIENDS OVER THERE. OUR UNIT LOST 22 PEOPLE.
Carpino was a paratrooper with the 82nd airborne doing reconnaisance on the Iraq/Iran border.
He was 19 when the war broke out.
CARPINO: I ACTUALLY PROTESTED AGAINST THE WAR, IT'S REAL EASY TO SAY NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT IT WHILE YOU'RE RIDING THE CHAIRLIFT IN DURANGO. I WAS AGAINST WHY WE CAME INTO IT, BUT NOW IT'S TIME TO GET THIS THING TAKEN CARE OF. WE'VE GOT TO FIX IT, SO THAT'S WHY I DECIDED TO JOIN AND HELP THAT WAY.
Both Peterson and Carpino say it would be wrong to walk out on the troops remaining in Iraq and the Iraqi people.
PETERSON: I TRY NOT TO HAVE AN OPINION ON IT CUZ I HAVEN'T BEEN OVER THERE IN LIKE FOUR YEARS NOW, WHICH IS A LONG TIME AGO. BUT I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW, WE NEED TROOPS OVER THERE AS MANY GUYS AS YOU CAN GET ON THE GROUND TO WATCH EACH OTHER'S BACKS. I MEAN IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TROOPS OVER THERE, GET AS MANY AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE IT JUST HELPS THE STRAIN ON US.
CARPINO: WE TORE DOWN A GOVERNMENT AND WE'RE TRYING TO BUILD IT FROM THE GROUND UP. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN OVERNIGHT EVEN WITH A LOT OF SUPPORT FROM THE PEOPLE OVER THERE AND EVERYTHING, IT'S JUST GOING TO TAKE AWHILE. BUT UM, LIKE I SAID, I THINK IT COULD BE TAKEN CARE OF IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, IF WE JUST KEEP THE HAMMER DOWN, KEEP UP THE TROOP SURGE. LIKE I SAID, I'VE SEEN IT IMPROVE AND INCREDIBLE AMOUNT IN A MATTER OF SIX OR SEVEN MONTHS WHEN I WAS OVER THERE EVER SINCE GENERAL PATREAS TOOK OVER. I MEAN I WAS A FORT LEWIS STUDENT, YOU KNOW, A REGULAR OLD DURANGUTANG JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE, I LOVED HELPING THOSE PEOPLE, THAT'S ABOUT IT. THERE REALLY IS SOME REALLY AMAZING STUFF GOING ON OVER THERE THAT MAIN STREAM MEDIA DOESN'T TOUCH ON.
Both say they'd return to Iraq if asked.
That's what the daughter of Nancy Fritz of Bayfield has done.
It's the second tour of duty in Iraq for 30-year old Luiza Fritz who was there at the start, and arrived back in Baghdad in January.
FRITZ: THIS TIME I THINK SHE'S A LITTLE FRUSTRATED IT'S GONE ON THIS LONG, PROBABLY THINKS THAT THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY BUT AS A CAREER SOLDIER HER PLACE IS TO GO AND THAT'S WHAT SHE SAYS. I DEFINITELY DIDN'T WANT HER TO GO, AS THE YEAR'S WENT BY AFTER SHE CAME HOME I THOUGHT OH GOOD, SHE'S NOT GOING TO GO AGAIN, AND SHE CALLED ME AND SAID I THINK WE'RE BEING CALLED UP AND I SAID OH PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T GO. I HAD TO REALLY GET USED TO IT. I DIDN'T WANT HER TO GO AGAIN. I HAVE TO SAY THOUGH I'VE BEEN A LOT CALMER THIS TIME AND FEEL THAT SHE'S ACTUALLY A LOT SAFER THAN WHEN SHE WAS THERE BEFORE. THE OTHER DAY I HAD THIS THOUGHT AFTER WATCHING ON THE NEWS, THAT SHE MAY BE SAFER IN BAGHDAD THAN ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.
Fritz, agrees with Peterson and Carpino, we need to finish what we started.
And says her daughter has noticed a big change from five years ago.
FRITZ: SHE SAYS THAT EVEN FROM HER VANTAGE POINT, FROM WHAT SHE'S SEEN SHE THINKS THEY CAN START DRAWING DOWN THE TROOPS. AGAIN, SHE SAYS SHE SEES THE IRAQI ARMY INVOLVED IN ALMOST EVERYTHING NOW. WE'VE GONE IN THERE, WE'VE DONE ALL KINDS OF THINGS, WE'VE CHANGED THEIR STRUCTURE AND I THINK WE HAVE TO STAY TILL THE END. SO IT'S KIND OF A COMMITTMENT. MY PERSONAL OPINION IS I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE GONE IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Harold Geer says he's really not surprised the war has dragged on for five years.
GEER: I THINK IT'S GOING TO GO ON A LOT LONGER YET. I DON'T THINK WE AS AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE THE WHEREWITHALL TO REALLY TAKE ON WHAT'S FACING US YET. BY DOING IT POLITICALLY CORRECTLY AND TRYING NOT TO MAKE EVERYBODY MAD AT US I THINK WE JUST KEEP POSTPONING THE INEVITABLE AND ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE SO TO SPEAK.
Regardless what happens, Geer says the death of his son, and others in Iraq, won't be in vain.
GEER: WIN LOSE OR DRAW, THEY WERE STILL SERVING A GOOD CAUSE.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

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