Local News

Erwin Soldier Says It’s Time to Leave Iraq

Posted March 19, 2008 11:38 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2008 12:18 a.m. EDT

— President Bush defended the Iraq war Wednesday as U.S. troops began a sixth year of combat. Bush's motto has been to "stay the course," but an Erwin soldier who recently returned from the conflicted region is not convinced that is the best option.

Richard Kolath was 14 when the Iraq war started.

“I was young, (and) I remember hearing it on the news,” Kolath said.

Last week, the Harnett County native came home to a hero's welcome after serving in Iraq.

“It's not every day (that) people have a parade that's honored for them ,and I thought it was very special,” he said.

Kolath went to Iraq in January 2007.

“Every day progress was happening, and at the same time something else was going on that kind of set it back,” he said.

Kolath's setback happened a month before his unit was scheduled to come home. His Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.

“I looked down, (and) my leg was in the truck. The bottom half of my leg was laying flat in the truck,” Kolath said.

After everything he has seen, the soldier said he believes five years in Iraq is long enough.

“It's time to get us out of there (Iraq)," Kolath said. "There are guys in my unit who did four tours over there."

The cost is just too great to continue a war that he believes will be difficult to win, Kolath said.

“They do deserve to be free, but at the same time our troops are dying over there every day and losing limbs,” he said.

Kolath also said that despite losing his leg, he has no regrets.

“I love my country, love it more than anything in the world,” he said.

Kolath will soon go back to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to complete his yearlong rehabilitation. So far, he has undergone 15 surgeries on his leg.