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Iraq: The war up close
by M.C. Kauffman


March 31, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - Writing from Camp Victory, Iraq in the heart of Baghdad, Army Staff Sergeant Ed Irizarry of Ketchikan, wanted to tell the people of Ketchikan about the good things the troops are doing. Irizarry said, "We see enough of the bad things here and want you to see the other side."

jpg American Troops & Ketchikan

American troops pose with the 3-year old child that was recently helped by our troops. The young boy is held by his father. SSG Ed Irizarry of the Alaska National Guard is standing to the left of the father. Standing to the left of Irizarry is Ben Miyasato from Juneau.
Photo courtesy SSG Ed Irizarry

SSG Irizarry who servers in the Alaska National Guard said in a letter to SitNews, "We roll out the gate every day into harms way to try and bring a little of our freedom to these people. We could not be prouder than we are right now." He said, "In a war torn country we are doing such good things to help these folks get back on their feet. It is such a heart breaking feeling to see how these people were treated and even how they still live in squalid conditions."

Irizarry said there is raw sewage everywhere and the U.S. is aiding the Iraqis in cleaning up and repairing the lines in some places. Another job they do to help is to conduct security operations for some villages so workers can lay in electrical lines to provide power to run appliances in the homes. Irizarry said, "We have been conducting police operations to ensure there are no insurgents entering these villages. The insurgents continue to try and disrupt the building of the infrastructure but the Iraqi people are holding steadfast." SSG Irizarry said, "The reception we have gotten from the Iraqis has been overwhelming. They also do not want the insurgents around."

jpg playground

An Iraqi family village. In the background is the new Playground
emplaced by the U.S. for the children.
Photo courtesy SSG Ed Irizarry

As one gentleman explained to Irizarry, "We do not want Alibabba (the bad guys) here. You help us and we are happy. Go USA." Irizarry said, "It's hard to express how that feels to hear but all my men here from Ketchikan and throughout Alaska are very proud to be here and be a part of this."

Sharing their experiences Irizarry said, "So far we have helped to destroy seven unexploded bombs that were in family yards in a farm area. The children stopped us and took us to the bombs. The parents also showed us the scars on children from bombs that had [been] exploded by children. So many scars, missing limbs, disfigurements. I then at that time called for the E.O.D. team to come out and get rid of them. They arrived quickly and destroyed them making it safe for the children."

jpg patrol waiting for the EOD team

SSG Irizarry's patrol waiting for the E.O.D. team to arrive...
Photo courstesy SSG Ed Irizarry

Recently Irizarry's patrol was called to respond to a family with a very sick child. He said the child was 3 years old and had a seizure disorder. "I was given permission to bring the child and his father into the base where the doctors deemed the child in a critical state. I then was requested to escort the father to the green zone with the child by medivac," Irizarry said. At the end of the day the child was better and given the proper meds to help him deal with his condition of epilepsy. Irizarry said the child is doing much better now.

jpg medivac operations

Medivc operations...
Photo courtesy SSG Ed Irizarry

SSG Ed Irizarry said, "To all the families who have someone here with me, be proud of what your son is doing. They all are doing an outstanding job. I could not be prouder of them than I am right now. I know there is a lot of action going on here in Iraq - some more than others - but this is our little part of the war here."

In his closing remarks, Irizarry said, "Everyone take care in Ketchikan. We here are looking forward to the day we can come home."

Irizarry is the husband of Shari Irizarry of Ketchikan.


E-Mail M.C. Kauffman

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