Reversals in hard-won Iraqi city vex veteransBy ALLEN G. BREED and JULIE WATSONSAN DIEGO (AP) — The image of two charred American bodies hanging from a bridge as a jubilant crowd pelted them with shoes seared the name Fallujah into the American psyche. The brutal house-to-house battle to tame the Iraqi insurgent stronghold cemented its place in U.S. military history.
So it is no surprise that the city's recent fall to al-Qaida-linked forces has touched a nerve for the service members who fought and bled there.Some call the news "disheartening," saying it revives painful memories of their sacrifice, while others try to place it in the context of Iraq's history of internal struggle since the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. As difficult as it is to see Islamist banners flying from government buildings they secured, they refuse to accept this as a permanent reversal."I'm very disappointed right now, very frustrated," says retired Marine Col. Mike Shupp, who was commanding officer of the regimental combat team that secured the city in late 2004. "But this is part of this long war, and this is just another fight, another battle in this long struggle against terrorism and oppression.""I do not see this as the culmination of the failure of all of our efforts — yet," agrees Earl J. Catagnus Jr., who was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Fallujah and now teaches at a military college. "This is just one battlefield, one city in a host of battles that has been happening since 2003. It's just for us as Americans, because we've elevated that battle to such high standards ... that it becomes turned into the 'lost cause,' the Vietnam War syndrome."...
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