'Why the Hell Did All My Buddies Die There?'

US vets bitter about rise of al-Qaeda in Fallujah: Washington Post

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 11, 2014 12:46 PM CST

(Newser) – A decade ago, the city of Fallujah became a not-so-pleasant reference point for Americans following the Iraq war as US forces dug in against insurgents. Today the American troops are gone, an al-Qaeda group has claimed the city as an Islamic state, and fighting between militants and Iraqi forces have claimed at least 60 lives in the last two weeks alone, reports AP. But you don't have to tell any of that to the US vets who fought there, if a Washington Post story is any reflection. They're following today's developments with anger and bitterness. Sample quotes:

  • “Could someone smart convince me that the black flag of al-Qaeda flying over Fallujah isn’t analogous to the fall of Saigon?” a former Army captain wrote on Twitter. “Because. Well.”
  • “It brings back a lot of anger,” says another vet. "I feel like it’s been a big waste of time. It’s kind of like, why the hell did all my buddies die there for? There’s no purpose to it.”
  • But the views aren't entirely negative: “You bounce back and forth between: Was it a complete failure, or did we do the best we could and handed it over to them when things were relatively calm?” says former three-star Gen. Mark Hertling. “Every person who served in Iraq or Afghanistan never loses that part of them when they come home. It becomes part of their soul.”

In this April 30, 2004, photo, Iraqi soldiers from the newly-formed Fallujah Brigade enter Fallujah as U.S. Marines, left, pull out from the town.
In this April 30, 2004, photo, Iraqi soldiers from the newly-formed Fallujah Brigade enter Fallujah as U.S. Marines, left, pull out from the town.   (AP Photo/John Moore, File)
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