MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A major announcement from President Barack Obama came Friday, declaring all U.S. troops serving in Iraq will be home for the holidays. But the news is bittersweet for a Minnesota family.
“I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ I was just really surprised,” said Jamie Dorff.
Dorff’s husband, Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Dorff, was killed seven years ago. He survived a helicopter crash on mission in Iraq, but soon drowned in the Tigris River.
“I can’t help but wonder if it would have been called off, and Patrick would have been here,” she said.
The message from the President is heartwarming, she said, but it cannot hide her heart wrenching, personal pain. Patrick left behind a daughter who was three at the time, and a wife who doesn’t want his death to be in vain. He is one of nearly 4,500 military members killed since the Iraq invasion in March of 2003 that started with shock and awe, a bombing campaign.
“I want people to know the sacrifices our military have done for the country and for other countries, not just ours,” she said.
The troop withdrawal is part of a deal President George W. Bush made in 2008. More than a million Americans have served in the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history. 66 Minnesotans made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.
“So, today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” said the President Friday. “Today I can say our troops will definitely be home for the Holidays.”
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will still have dozens of Marines to protect it, and thousands of American security contractors will train Iraqi forces to keep the peace. Concerns remain that the American withdrawal will undo all the gains against insurgents. The White House says Iraq will now be an ally.
Washington had considered the possibility of leaving several thousand troops to continue training Iraqi security forces. But Iraq leaders, who are still angry over civilian deaths and Abu Ghraib, refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution. The American government won’t stay without it.
Now, the finish line in Iraq is clear.
“I wish them the best, and I’m so glad that they are coming home to their families,” Jamie said.
She believes bringing home the troops sooner, rather than later, lessens the likelihood more will get hurt. More could get killed, along with the chance more families will suffer, like she and her daughter have.
“I pray, and I continue to pray for all the soldiers overseas that they continue to come home,” she said.