On April 9, 2003, Marine Cpl. Edward Chin was the focus of television cameras worldwide when he was broadcast draping a large rope around the neck of a massive statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. After some controversy over which nation's flag should cover the toppled dictator's face, U.S. coalition forces tore down the statue and Chin's place in history was secured.
Ten years after the U.S. invasion brought Chin to Iraq, the Brooklyn-born veteran tells the New York Daily News that he has doubts about the entire operation.
“What did we go there for?” Chin asked, later admitting that "we weren’t really looking for" weapons of mass destruction.
“As Marines, we just do our jobs," he continued. "We go where we are told. We hope that our leaders make the right decisions.”"
With the Iraq War now officially over and the U.S. military presence formally withdrawn, Chin appears concerned that the Iraqi people are headed toward a turbulent future.
“I feel they really don’t know what they want," he said. "They didn’t want Saddam in power. But they don’t seem to want democracy either.”
Chin isn't the only Iraq veteran to voice skepticism about the role Americans played in the war. Tomas Young, a dying veteran who was shot and paralyzed just days into his first Iraq deployment in 2004, has expressed no reservations about his opposition to the military engagement.
Last week, he penned an open letter to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done," he wrote. "You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole."
Young has announced plans to end his life in hospice care later this year. He and his wife, Claudia Cuellar, recently told ABC News that the pain and suffering he lives with on a daily basis as a result of the initial injury and ensuing complications have become too much to bear.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.