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War vet Brickhouse home on leave

"I’m going out on that tomorrow,” David Brickhouse said as he pointed at his family’s fishing boat.

“We’ll try to catch whatever we can catch.”

It’s been a while since this physician’s assistant with the U.S. Army has been able to go fishing. Brickhouse had been stationed in Baghdad since October 2003 as a member of the 1/4 ADA Battalion with the 1st Armored Division.

The former Farragut resident is in town until June 10 to relax, then gather up his wife, Shalinka, and four children, who were residing in Clarksville, Tenn., and relocate them where his new assignment is — in Giessen, Germany.

Leading up to his departure, Brickhouse and his parents, Sharon and Ray of Farragut, have plans for several family activities.

“I’m going to spend as much time as I possibly can doing what the kids want to do,” Brickhouse said with a grin. “Maybe go to Dollywood, Splash Mountain and Pigeon Forge.”

He’s happy to be back in the United States, but 2nd Lt. Brickhouse admits he left Baghdad with a sour taste in his mouth because other battalions were given orders to stay until August.

“It’s a weird feeling. You almost feel robbed,” Brickhouse said. “My friends have to stay until August. We were the only battalion asked to come back.”

That has cast some gloom on family activities.

“It’s hard to celebrate when your buddies are over there still fighting,” he said. “It definitely puts a stain on it.”

In light of the highly publicized alleged abuse of Iraqi POWs and the decapitation of American contractor Nick Berg, Brickhouse described the morale of the troops in Iraq as “definitely down now.”

“The biggest, most devastating blow was the (Iraqi) prisoner abuse scandal,” he said.

Brickhouse said that once general public opinion and support started to sway amongst the American people, soldier morale started to drop.

“It helps when you know you have unbelievable support back home,” he said, “once general opinion started to sway, morale went down.”

Good relations the soldiers had built with the Iraqi people, Brickhouse said, also took a hit.

“Everyone was trying to build a relationship and now we have to start all over,” he said. “I can’t believe seven or eight individuals have the power to take that. They took something that we worked so hard on and threw it away.”

On the decapitation of Berg, Brickhouse said the soldiers were “disgusted, but at the same time the people that did it would have done it anyway.”

Brickhouse added that he didn’t think the act was carried out by Iraqis.

“I don’t think it was Iraqi people doing it,” he said, “ … it was people from other countries. Most of the people (we caught) with bombs in their trunk weren’t from Iraq.”

Brickhouse said the people who killed Berg were “people from other countries supported by other networks, like al-Qaida.”

“They want it to look like Iraq is fighting with the soldiers,” he said. “They don’t want Iraq to prosper.”

Brickhouse said, despite what has been portrayed in the media the “majority of Iraq appreciates what we’ve done.”

“The only stories people hear are negative,” he said. “They don’t hear anything good.”

He added that Iraqi people see the same newscasts as Americans and the images and stories affect their opinion of U.S. soldiers.

“They start believing everything America is,” he said. “That makes it worse for the guys over there … it trickles down to the guys over there working and dying.”


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