Superior Iraq War Veteran Remembers Tenth Anniversary Of Conflict

By KBJR News 1

March 24, 2013 Updated Mar 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com)
March, 2003, began an eight year conflict that claimed more than four thousand American lives and wounded nearly 32 thousand.
Ten years later, many veterans of the conflict can't believe a decade has already gone by.

"It feels like it was just days ago. It doesn't seem like it was ten years. It's definitely gone by pretty fast." said Travis Vandenberghe.

Travis Vandenberghe of Superior spent eight years in the Army and did two tours in Iraq.
Even in basic training, he knew where he would end up.

"They made it very clear as soon as you started basic that you were going to Iraq." said Vandenberghe.

Vandenberghe spent his first tour as a Humvee driver and gunner patrolling Baghdad.
In May, 2007, his vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device.

"It was definitely a scary moment realizing that they're trying to kill us." said Vandenberghe.

One crewman was killed and the rest were wounded, including Vandenberghe himself.
Despite his wounds, he drove the damaged Humvee to Baghdad's Green Zone and helped provide aid to his wounded comrades.
The action earned Vandenberghe a Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal.
Over the years, both Presidents Bush and Obama have promised to help Iraq veterans for the services they rendered.

"We've got to make sure our vets who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have a chance to put their incredible skills and leadership to work at home." said President Obama.

For Vandenberghe, that promise materialized as GI Bill money he's using to attend Fon Du Lac Community and Tribal College for law enforcement.
For years to come, politicians, pundits and private citizens will argue the merits of spending American lives to topple Saddam Hussein.
The GI from Superior, though, remains proud of answering his country's call to duty.

"If I went back in time and they were like, do you want to do it again not knowing if one of those guys could be you that got killed, I'd still have to do it." said Vandenberghe.

In Superior, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

During the Iraq war, one hundred Wisconsinites gave their lives.
The number from Minnesota is 74 and it's 168 from Michigan.