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Veterans Remember War on Terror


Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 3/31/2016 at 12:41:44

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
September 05, 2011

Guardsmen carry many memories of war on terror
By John Skipper

MASON CITY — Tom Heaberlin said he still sits with his back to the wall so he can see who comes in and out in front of him.

Gary Reinholdt said little things don’t bother him anymore like they once did.

Rusty Seidel said he’s concerned about people who still look at the world with blinders on.

For all three North Iowans, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States has special meaning, because all were deployed to Iraq after that.

They were part of the Iowa National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Co. out of Mason City.

Heaberlin, 59, of Mason City, served in Vietnam in 1971 and 1972 and in Iraq in 1990-91 and again in 2003-04.

“I’m a truck driver here and I was a truck driver over there,” said Heaberlin, who is married and has three grown children.

He said one of his lasting memories is of the people he met, the innocent people who were victims of war.

“A lot of the people over there were real nice people who were kind of caught in the middle between the good guys and the bad guys.

Reinholdt, 50, who was in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, had similar feelings.

“I served with great people and met a lot of great people over there,” he said. “The people of Iraq were happy we were there and were kind and generous.

“One memory I have is of a man who ran a civilian laundry there. We used to give him candy for his children. He would give us spices and other things.”

Seidel, 57, retired last year after 24 years as a maintenance man at North Iowa Area Community College. He now farms in Rockwell.

“Iraq was a very poor country that needed help,” he said. “Sadam took whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.

“We made friends with a Saudi major over there. His job was to take care of gravesites. He was a nice man — a person, just like us in that way.

“It was important to liberate Iraq so the Iraqi people could get what they deserve.”

All three veterans said the war on terror has no end in sight and offered their perspective on U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.

Heaberlin said, “There will always be somebody there fighting, somebody always in there replacing others. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be another Vietnam, but it has, plus some.”

But Heaberlin said his service and U.S. military actions have been vital. “You have to take the fight to them because you don’t want them in your backyard,” he said.

Reinholdt said the work of the 1133rd had impact. “Was it worth it? In terms of what we were there to do, yes,” he said.

“Are we going to change people’s lives over there? Probably not.”

Seidel said serving in Iraq was an eye-opening experience.

“You see a different part of the world you had no idea existed. Sept. 11 woke people up.

“But as for the war on terror and how long it will last, there will be some who will fight forever,” he said.

The men have one other lasting memory.

“I knew Josh Knowles,” said Heaberlin, referring to the Guardsman from Sheffield who was killed in action on Feb. 5, 2004.

“I saw him the day he died,” said Heaberlin. “We passed each other on the road and waved to one another. A few hours later he was gone. What happened to Josh brings it all home.”

Seidel said, “My youngest son is the same age as Josh Knowles. I was there when Josh died. I helped put him in the ambulance.

“That’s something you never forget. It stays with you forever.”

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2016


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