Seventh anniversary of Iraq War a quiet one

March 19, 2010 8:02:58 PM PDT
Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. In Lafayette, over the years, a large memorial has been built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the two wars.

There was little fanfare around the day's anniversary. Even the White House declined to comment on it. Still, the significance of the day is not lost for those that sacrificed and served in Iraq.

Back on March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush said "On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance."

He announced a major air strike on Baghdad and with it, a war had begun.

By April 9, 2003, it looked like the effort was going well, with the toppling of Saddam Hussein statues in Baghdad.

Then, on May 1, 2003, President Bush announced "The United States and our allies have prevailed."

On Friday, Walnut Creek's Pat Soler knows the mission is far from over. Her son, 28-year-old Army Ranger, 2nd Lt. Kyle Soler has done two tours in Iraq and received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

"They were in a serious firefight where they were ambushed, and he had to save his men. It was hand to hand combat," said Pat.

Kyle leaves for Afghanistan on April 1, 2010.

"And you wonder sometimes, are we just going to be in it for the long haul?" said Pat.

"I had 14 killed and 32 wounded on my watch," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe.

Monroe is the former commander of the California National Guard.

"The guy that's our boss... said 'If we're going to do this, we need at least 500,000 soldiers and marines. We didn't have near that. We had a 130,000," said Monroe. "Even if there were weapons of mass destruction, I think we could've done something, other than what we did."

Monroe does believe the war won't last another seven years.

"I don't think the current administration will allow that to happen," said Monroe.

Until it does end, Craig Cataline will continue to update the casualty numbers at the Lafayette crosses. They include Americans lost in both Afghanistan and Iraq -- the number is now at least 5,419. Cataline's son, a Navy medic, served in Iraq.

"I hope we can bring these kids home," said Cataline.

When asked if he looked forward to the day when he can bring the sign down, Cataline said "I would love to take the sign down. Yeah, that would be great."


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