Fighting continues in Iraq with government forces continuing to try and hold off the advances of Sunni militants. The appearance this weekend of the militant spiritual leader Abu Bakr al – Baghdadi at a mosque in Mosul, despite a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, is seen as a further sign of how emboldened the rebels have become. Questions are also growing over whether the U.S. should back an effort to replace the current president of Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki.
In Iraq, Sunni militants continue pushing towards Baghdad. The militants have released video reportedly showing the moments before fighters executed Shiites serving in the Iraqi Army. President Obama is sending 275 troops to Iraq to protect U.S. personnel and the American Embassy, but some lawmakers want the president to quickly provide a plan to address the threat.
It’s a day many Minnesota families won’t soon forget. More than 200 National Guard members are being deployed to Iraq. But before they go, those heroes and their families were treated to a steak lunch.
After years of living in a war-torn country, an Iraqi man is starting a new life in Minnesota with the help of some American soldiers he met overseas. Twelve days ago, Phillip arrived in the Twin Cities. He uses the nickname that American soldiers gave him in the interest of protecting his identity.”Twelve days without any check points. Nobody asks me where I’m going, you know, all the security stuff. And you feel safe,” Khalid said. “The first three, four days [it] was exciting. First time to see snow, you know. All this nice weather, but now, I feel cold.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Derek Weida lost his right leg after being shot while on patrol in Iraq. “I was thinking, ‘There’s a good chance I could die out here.’ And I obviously came really close,” Weida said. He struggled with what to do with his life when he came home, but now he has a plan to help himself, and veterans just like him. Derek loved everything about the military, especially the brothers and sisters he made as part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
An ex-Marine from Prior Lake is receiving one of the military’s top honors. Officials are presenting a Silver Star medal to Cpl. Ethan Nagel Tuesday at the Navy Operational Support Center in Minneapolis.
There are a lot of good stories this time of year about people giving back. But the greatest gift this holiday season may be what Twin Cities war veteran Paul Braun gave to an Iraqi man he met while overseas. The man, known as Phillip, put his life on the line to serve as an interpreter for Braun and his fellow soldiers. Braun first met Phillip, whose real name is Khalid, when he was assigned to the 34th Military Police company in Basra, Iraq in 2009.
A wounded Minnesota soldier is being recognized with a very special gift. Justin Utecht was given the keys to a house in Minnetonka on Friday. “It’s absolutely gorgeous in there,” Utecht said. “For a single guy it’s pretty good.” U.S. Bank, Freedom Alliance and Five Brothers Default Management Solutions partnered together to donate the home as a kickoff to Veterans Day weekend. Utecht served in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, and has struggled adjusting to life back at home due to post-traumatic stress disorder and migraines.
Two combat medics who recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan plan to march 23 miles with other veterans through Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday to raise awareness that nearly two dozen soldiers die each day by suicide.
Hundreds of mourners paid their final respects on Friday to a proud Army officer and devoted husband and dad. At 38, Lt. Col. Mark Weber was on the fast track for a successful military career. But the story of his unexpected journey would reach far beyond the halls of the Pentagon. “He was a scholar. He was just a joy to be around, very inspirational,” says Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesperson for the Minnesota National Guard.
Jason Probst described what it was like last year in January when he was driving a vehicle down a street and hit a road side bomb in Afghanistan. “It was like driving and hitting a wall,” he said.
Sunday’s Father’s Day will be the first time Sgt. Ifedayo Kila will be with his family on the special day since his son was born nearly four years ago.
Dustin Allison was riding in an armored vehicle at the head of a convoy in Iraq one morning in 2007 when an improvised explosive device went off, killing the driver and leaving Allison badly wounded.
A retired Minnesota National Guard soldier is about to receive a Purple Heart, six years after he was wounded in Iraq.