New Ulm is a small town in southern Minnesota. Its local newspaper, the Journal, reported this morning on a visit home by area resident Gary Kruger. Kruger has spent the last year in Iraq, working as a truck and bus driver for Kellogg, Brown and Root. He plans to return to Iraq after a short visit home:
While the media tends to concentrate on negative stories about suicide bombers, fires and explosions, Krueger doesn’t consider Iraq to be such a horrible place to be.
He listed three reasons for returning to Iraq — the need for English-speaking drivers, his enjoyment in working with the military and seeing Iraqi infrastructure and its people improve.
Krueger said an Iraqi joyously told him the weapons of mass destruction that are now gone were Saddam, Usay and Kuday Hussein.
“There were people there that never had electrical power or clean water to drink until we got there and gave it to them, ” Krueger said.
Seeing Iraq rebound is what excited Krueger and propels him back for more desert duty.
Thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, irrigation ditches are full of water again. More than 4.5 million Iraqis now have clean drinking water for the first time. Iraqis grow tomatoes the size of softballs. Broccoli, cauliflower and wheat is also being grown. Bedouins are able to raise many more sheep and camels than they did in prior years.
Power lines knocked down in the 1991 Gulf War are back up and wires are strung. Southern Iraqis without power for a dozen years are now buying refrigerators and air conditioners. New businesses, factories and telecommunications towers are going up.
Krueger said Iraqis told him al-Queda was in their country and trained people how to overtake a jetliner in a 727 fuselage at an airport.
People were trained to do what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 when 2 jetlines crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, killing thousands.
A former General in Saddam’s army told Krueger that Saddam was funding terrorist training efforts.
Krueger found unanimous Iraqi support for America.
“I never talked to an Iraqi who wasn’t glad we were there,” Krueger said. “Those resisting us are mostly Syrians, Iranians and members of the Baath party, Hussein’s people.”
Krueger reported being in live fire situations five times in his first year in Iraq.
Perhaps Krueger said it best when he recalled what a former British Marine told him about the U.S. military.
“If not for the U.S. Armed Forces, the world would be full of chaos and run by tyrants. You realize there are some very bad people in the world. Somebody’s got to step up to the plate and get rid of them.”