Sunnyvale councilmember returns from war

January 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A South Bay city councilmember is back home after a year in Iraq. Cmd. Otto Lee flew into San Jose International Airport Friday evening.

A lot of people could not wait for this day to come. Lee's family, friends, and even Sunnyvale residents were there to celebrate the commander's return.

Lee is finally home. The Navy reservist left not just a wife and two young daughters at home for a 13-month-long deployment to Iraq, but also an entire city. Lee is a Sunnyvale City Council member.

"It's absolutely awesome to be home. I obviously love this country," said Lee.

Lee's absence for the past year was a shock for everyone.

"He has a wife and two children and he was in his last term on the council. It was disconcerting, but we also know that the country needs him," said former Sunnyvale Mayor Julia Miller.

Lee's mission was to help with the U.S. transition out of Iraq. He was in charge of logistics, military supplies, and base closures. The long time reservist admits he is worried about the upcoming parliamentary election in March, but at the same time, he says overall security has improved in Iraq.

"Iraq is fragile. You can't just go out to downtown Baghdad and have a dinner for example, but we hope that one day that will be possible," said Lee.

Lee was stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad -- a base that was attacked by insurgents several times.

"We heard there are bombs and we were worried, but he always said, 'It's fine, you don't have to worry,'" said Jane Lee, Otto's mother.

But now, for the first time in a long time, this family feels like it can finally relax.

"I feel like I can finally exhale and we have been anticipating this moment for a long time," said Sally Lee, Otto's wife.

Lee is still technically on leave from the Navy. He plans to go back to work with the city and as a patent attorney some time next month.


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