Iraq Vet recounts positive experience helping Iraqis and having fun
by Brian C. Rittmeyer
Bill Marsh spent one year in Iraq and says he had fun every single day.
A captain in the Navy Reserve, Marsh, 49, of West View, came home in April after working with Iraqi civilians on the rebuilding of their nation — not from American bombs, he said, but from the neglect of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"It was a very positive experience. It felt good to help people. I found it to be very rewarding," said Marsh, a 27-year military veteran.
Marsh spoke Thursday at the Pittsburgh stop of "Fight for Victory," a cross-country caravan in support of American troops sponsored by Move America Forward. The rally at The Pointe at North Fayette was the caravan's last stop before its final event Saturday in Washington.
"Oftentimes the press is negative. We're letting them know that (regardless) of how we feel individually, they're in our hearts and we support them and pray for their safety and support their mission," said Kathie Marino, 43, of Hanover, a local organizer of the event and daughter of a Vietnam veteran…
"If we're going to commit our soldiers, we need to let them do their job to the fullest extent and to leave politics out of it," she said.
Julieann Najar, 60, of St. Louis, has followed the caravan since it stopped in her city. Her son, Army Sgt. Dennis Cabanting, 34, was injured when his Humvee hit an improvised explosive device, or IED.
"We want our troops to know — our sons — that they're supported," she said. "Congress doesn't have the last word. The American people do.
"They're doing great things, but people don't hear about it. We don't need a repeat of Korea or Vietnam. We need to let them finish the job."
Vietnam veteran Brise Bickerton, 61, of Clairton, joins other veterans in sending care packages to soldiers and visiting the wounded.
"The politics are disgusting," he said. "These guys did volunteer. The current decision is, it's in the national interest to have troops there. They're doing a real good job. They make you proud."
Stephanie Theys, 17, a high school senior from New Brighton, was among a group of future Marine recruits who took part in the rally. Her great-grandfather served in the Army in World War I, her grandfather in the Air Guard in World War II and her mother in the Air Force. She'll be the first Marine in the family and leaves for boot camp in June.
"I really want to serve my country," she said. "If they want me to be in Iraq, I'll go there in a heartbeat. I'll be where they need me."
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