Local vets worry Iraq could fall to militants - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Local vets worry Iraq could fall to militants

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As Sunni militants seize towns in Iraq and inch closer to Baghdad, local veterans who served in the country are left with a sinking feeling.

The fear is the country will fall, and two local Marines feel like their efforts may have been in vain.

Las Vegan Kelly Mercer was a member of the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, the unit that pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in April of 2003.

Mercer said it hurts him to think that the country might fall to insurgents after eight men from his unit lost their lives there. He's critical of the Iraqi army.

"It looks like they're not even fighting. They're giving up. The same thing happened during the invasion when we were there. The Iraqi army gave up, threw their uniforms, left their weapons on the side of the road and took off. They've done it before and they're doing it again," Mercer said.

Dale Samuda was also a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He saw action with the 3rd Lower Altitude Air Defense Battalion. He believes things may be worse than they're being reported.

"It's already fallen, sir. If there's so much publicity going on overseas with this subject right now, they're down to one leg, balancing, teetering. Once we get over there, they're going to fall," he said.

Both men said the insurgency can be stopped, but they believe it would take a U.S. military intervention. Mercer said airstrikes would be key.

"When you have air support, it's a lot easier to stand and fight," Mercer said.

Samuda said air support would be needed, but boots would have to hit the ground as well.

Samuda and Mercer were on the same battlefield at the same time in Iraq, but didn't meet at that time.

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