Sunnyvale councilmember returns from Iraq

July 20, 2009 5:49:07 PM PDT
A South Bay councilmember is home on military leave, after giving up his office to serve his country in Iraq. A day in the park at home in Sunnyvale means a lot to him and his family.

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Commander Otto Lee has just 15 days with his family and every moment is precious.

"Listening to my daughter crying this morning, I never realized how nice that would sound," says Lee.

This father of two is also a naval reservist and this is a brief break from a one year deployment to Baghdad.

In February, Lee went from being a Sunnyvale City Councilmember to managing military supplies at Camp Victory in Iraq.

Lee says the drawdown in Iraq puts pressure on his job overseeing supplies at some 400 U.S. bases.

"Every time when you close a base there are a lot of things that have to be decided; what to do, leave it behind, ship to Afghanistan or other areas that need it, or ship it back home," says Lee.

Even with a desk job, Lee is serving in a war zone and Camp Victory is a favorite target for insurgents launching mortars.

"The whole bed, and actually the whole room, was shaken. I said 'Oh, that was pretty close,'" says Lee.

Like all families with a loved one in the military, there are sacrifices. By the time he comes home next year, Lee's youngest daughter will be twice a old as when he left.

"It took her a few seconds to recognize him since Hillary is now a year and a half and then she latched on to him and won't let him go," says Sally Lee, Otto's wife.

Lee says there is a lot to be done before the U.S. can safely leave Iraq, but is hopeful the president's timetable can be met.

"We need to make sure security is in place and that certainly has improved significantly and I'm glad we have at least gotten this far," says Lee.

Until he returns to his council seat, Lee is keeping an online journal of his experiences in Iraq. For a few days with his family, no words are needed.

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