War in Iraq | St. Louis Public Radio

War in Iraq

Joshua Eckhoff, 33, of Ballwin suffered a traumatic brain injury while clearing roadside bombs in Iraq. January 2018 photo
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Joshua Eckhoff of Ballwin smiled as he described posing for pictures at his college graduation in December — and how proud his mother was. Earning that degree is the latest achievement for the Army veteran who suffered a brain injury in Iraq 10 years ago that no one thought he could survive.

On Feb. 6, 2008, as Eckhoff led a convoy searching for roadside bombs, an improvised explosive device pierced the armored vehicle he was riding in and smashed into the right side of his head. His injury was so severe that the Army notified his mother that he had died in combat.

“I call that my ‘alive day,’ ’’ said Eckhoff, 33. “The anniversary of my injury every year, we celebrate it like a birthday.”

Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond to the program for an in-depth look at his career and legacy.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2011 - Because I went to a Catholic grade school, I experienced none of the modern angst about how best to refer to the signature winter holiday. Dec. 25 was Christmas and that was that.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 30, 2008 - The experiences of U.S. military women who went to Iraq as support soldiers -- cooks, clerks and mechanics -- but ended up in battle, are detailed in "Lioness," a documentary that will be screened and discussed Thursday as part of KETC-Channel 9's Community Cinema Series.

The documentary by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers weaves together personal accounts, journal excerpts and archival footage to tell the story of five female soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division who served together in Iraq from September 2003 through August 2004, during the growing counterinsurgency.

2008 photo of Andrew Carroll 300 pxls
Provided by Mr. Carroll

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Author Andrew Carroll believes America's warriors have plenty to say about their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that no historian or journalist can tell their stories as well as they can.

Carroll is the editor of "Operation Homecoming" (Random House 2006), the well-received anthology of personal accounts of war gathered by the National Endowment for the Arts. A new paperback version of the book will be released on Memorial Day by the University of Chicago Press.

Melissa (holding Ditto), Derek, David and Steve Squires have Mother's Day together.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Staff Sgt. Melissa "Missy'' Squires can look at her photos from Iraq now.

The dramatic pictures of her Missouri National Guard unit, the 203rd Engineer Battalion, Company B, digging through the rubble of the U.N. building after a terrorist attack in August 2003.

The dozens and dozens of pictures of life on base, her unit's construction projects and posing with friendly Iraqis.

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.