Soldiers from the war in Iraq are returning and telling their stories, and two of them have returned to their native Forest Grove in recent days.
Dave Farrin, a lance corporal in the Marines, and James Gibson, a staff sergeant in the Army, have returned much the same young men as when they left, for which their families are tremendously thankful. They have come through the fires of war with their physical health and spirits intact.
They share other important similarities. Both men believe the war has received unfair coverage in the American press. This disappoints them more than it angers them because they believe that the good things accomplished by the USA far outweigh the bad.
As far as the soldiers are concerned, they say the war has overwhelming support.
As for experiencing war for the first time, Farrin said, "I was not nervous. We had a lot of training before we left." And anyway, "a lot of stuff doesn't bother me."
What did bother him was the picture of the war given to the American public.
"The people in Iraq love us," Farrin said. "The people doing the fighting are from outside Iraq. Syria, Turkey, places like that.
"When we would go outside the gate, all the people would come running up to us and say, 'Mister! Mister! Take my picture!' They gave us peace signs and thumbs up. They tried to give us food."
While "news travels real slow" in Iraq, Farrin did not like what he heard.
"They don’t see all the good stuff," he said. "They just cover the fighting. It was kind of weird. It seemed like they were trying to screw up the military."
Gibson's greatest moment was Jan. 30 – election day in Iraq.
"Watching thousands upon thousands of people coming to vote made it all worthwhile," he said. "Seeing all those people lined up to vote was amazing."
It was this day and other days of progress in Iraq that cause Gibson to take issue with coverage of the war.
"I don’t think people back home are getting the full picture," Gibson said. "There has been a lot of focusing on negatives. We could do 500 missions with the Iraqi army and 499 of them could be successful, and the only thing covered would be the one that went bad.
"People don't see the new schools opening, the two or three toy and supply drops every month, people getting clean water. This has been a very successful mission. One that 99 percent of the soldiers are supporting. It is being spun like everyone doesn't want to be there."
"Our unit alone spent millions to build schools, irrigation facilities, city council halls, roads, and rebuilding the Iraqi army so they can take over the war. In over a year I didn't expect them to make half the progress they did. It's amazing how these guys came in and went about building a better Iraq."
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