war in Iraq

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

People often call Todd Nicely a hero, but the 30-year-old Marine combat veteran would prefer that they didn’t.

Nicely, who lost his arms and legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan four years ago, says the heroes of the 13-year war on terror are the 6,841 U.S. service members who have died while serving their country since Sept. 11.

“If they want to call me an inspiration because of the things I have to do on a daily basis, fine. I’ll take that,’’ says Nicely. “But hero? No. I have friends who are heroes. The guys who aren’t coming home -- those are the heroes.”

President Obama says the U.S. will send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help it cope with the Sunni extremist group ISIS, which has won several key battles in recent days.

Obama said Americans won't be taking up combat roles in the conflict — and he said the U.S. won't take actions "that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another."

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says the Iraqi government bears most of the blame for the violence now engulfing the country and is urging caution as the U.S. government decides how to respond.

“The mess that is in Iraq right now is Iraq’s doing,” McCaskill said in a conference call Tuesday with Missouri journalists. “The U.S. put them on a path of free and fair elections, and to have a military that could enforce the rule of law...I’m sick to my stomach that what we have done in that country has been so carelessly and casually abandoned in favor of sectarian dominance.”

(via Flikr/ Sgt. Dajon Schafer, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs)

For Captain Michelle Matthews, readjusting to home was more difficult than adjusting to war. A reservist with previous active duty experience, Matthews was deployed with the Missouri National Guard to Iraq in December of 2005.

"Life was a lot easier at war in some aspects," said Matthews. "I didn't have to cook, get gas, pay bills. But we were at war."

"We were mortared every day," she added. She described a joke about hearing mortars. If you could hear them, you were good. If you couldn't hear them, then you were in trouble.

Rocky Sickmann
Provided by Anheuser-Busch

For Rocky Sickmann of St. Louis, the U.S. war on terrorism began nearly 30 years ago -- on the morning he was taken hostage by Iranian militants and survived, along with 51 other American captives, 444 days of torment.

"If you talk to a lot of the hostages, you know the war on terrorism started on Nov. 4, 1979, when we did not retaliate on Iran. And it seems like Iran has humiliated us and taken us for granted ever since,'' Sickmann says.