DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) — Monday marks the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. But for many veterans, their wounds from the war are still healing.
Fighting for your country takes a tremendous amount of personal sacrifice, and even 20 years later, that sacrifice is still not lost on the veterans who served, including Charles Perkins, a member of the National Guard for seven years, who was activated when the war began.
He says after that, his life was never the same.
“Your whole world just turned upside down,” Perkins said. “I mean, I’m not the only one who got a divorce over there, there’s been several. I missed birthdays, but I was in since 1996 so I’ve been used to missing birthdays. And my kids knew, that’s daddy’s job, he has to do it.”
James McCormick also served in Iraq and was wounded three times while defending a staging area under attack. In a year and a half on the battlegrounds, he lost many of his friends in combat.
“There were so many sacrifices and personal friends that were killed over there,” McCormick said. “Every day, it took a piece of me a large chunk of me emotionally and physically.”
McCormick adds that his sacrifices were intense, but the U.S. military completed their mission, and he says that makes their sacrifices all worth it.
“In Iraq, you see success over there,” he said. “You see a government that’s functional, you see the removal of the dictator Sadam Hussein is gone, and you see the people that are prospering.”
Both Perkins and McCormick say that if they had the chance to go back to Iraq and do it all over again, they would in a heartbeat.
“I’d go back again today if they asked me to or needed me,” Perkins said. “I’d go now if they said, ‘hey, we need you’.”
“It makes it all worth it for me when I see the children and the children of the children that are starting to be raised in a better environment in Iraq,” McCormick said.
In Dunbar, the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery honors fallen soldiers who died serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.