Six years after war starts soldier says progress is made - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Six years after war starts soldier says progress is made

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- An eastern Iowa protest marks the 6th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Dozens gathered in front of the Old Capitol in Iowa City to voice objections to America's ongoing presence in Iraq. The protesters also held a candle light vigil to remember soldiers killed in the war.

"We're here to mourn the people, americans, iraqis, and from other countries who have suffered, who have died, who are wounded, who have suffered as a result of this war," said protester Edward Flaherty.

But six years later, what do soldiers who fought in Iraq think of the war?

For one soldier -- Justin Hendrickson -- six years is a lot longer than he expected. But he still thinks that time has translated into progress. Hendrickson always wanted to be a soldier.

"I wanted to enlist because my brother was a tanker back in the gulf war so growing up i always kinda has a strong interest in the military," said Hendrickson.

In 2003 he enlisted -- after basic training he was based in Germany. And in 2006 he deployed to Ramadi -- also known as the triangle of death -- one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq.

"When we went into the city it was a fight from day 1. It gets hard. I mean we stayed on the tanks for days at a time, drinking water that was 130 degrees, eating MRE's," he said.

His unit pushed insurgents out of the city so the army could start rebuilding. Months later he saw the impact.

"Really all our hard work paid off in allowing them to have a normal life again," he said.

Hendrickson says six years is a long time. But despite the protests, this soldier thinks the US should finish the job.

"We started the job, if we pull out now we're gonna loose a lot of respect from the rest of the world."

Despite the horrors of war -- serving in Iraq is still a point of pride.

"It is up to this day the most honorable thing, being in the military will probably be the most honorable thing I'll ever do in my lifetime."

Hendrickson says things have improved a lot in Iraq. For example, a few months after he got home -- he saw a TV report showing a US general walking down what had been one of the deadliest streets in Ramadi, eating an ice cream cone.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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