On the ten year anniversary of the War in Iraq, John Hunt, a Longs community member and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, says the war gave the American military the push they needed to modernize their war tactics.
"We were really unorganized. We were using a lot of stuff from Vietnam, armor and gear, and these wars have given us a chance to revamp our military and really update it," Hunt said.
Hunt was a combat engineer for the Marines and was involved in the war from day one. Reflecting back to its start, he recalls the initial shock he had when he found out that he was being deployed to Iraq.
"I remember leading up to when we were on the ship waiting for the night that, you know, President Bush came out and said that we were going to war, and it was almost like we couldn't believe it was happening. I didn't think it was going to happen. I thought it was just a big show of force," Hunt said.
He says that even with the controversy that the war has caused over the years, he feels like he helped save a country from turmoil.
"A lot of Iraqis were freed from a brutal dictator. They're appreciative for what we did. We gave them a chance to have a democracy and to have a country run the way that it should be," Hunt said.
Since he's been out of the military, Hunt has become a student at Coastal Carolina University, a husband, an active member of his church and a proud owner of two Labrador Retrievers. He has also been able to reconnect with most of his fellow combat members through social media.