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Former Marine Sgt. reacts to new turmoil in Iraq

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 05:49:07 AM MDT
Updated On: Jun 14 2014 09:46:46 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The retaking of key cities like Mosul and Fallujah by terrorist forces in Iraq hits close to home for a lot of Montanans.

We have more veterans per capita than any state in the country, and many of them served in Iraq.

4,477 U.S. service members were killed there between 2002 and 2012, Including 29 Montanans.

Missoula resident and former Marine Sgt. Mike Warner, who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2008, says he hasn't forgotten the men who paid the ultimate sacrifice there.

"I was Charlie Company, 4th tanks, out of Boise, Idaho,” said Warner. “One of the marine's we lost was a gentleman named Dustin Birch. The anniversary of his death was the ninth of this month, and so it's recently in my mind about what happened to him, and everything we went through over there.”

Warner was stationed in Fallujah, and he says watching that city fall to the enemy has made him question what sacrifices like Birch's were for.

"It personally hurts... There are marines, soldiers, and sailors that lost their lives, fighting in these areas. To see them come back in strength like this, and take these areas back, without anyone fighting back or stopping them, it feels like those lives were lost for nothing," said Warner.

Warner says he and his fellow marines to Iraq and did their jobs, but he believes they were pulled out too quickly.

"And now, if we want to fix the problem, we're going to have to send more troops back and clean up the mess that was already cleaned up once.