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04-18-06, 07:42 AM
One soldier's story

Fripp Island woman believes her fallen brother's work exemplifies a success story of Iraq -- a conviction shared by mayor of Tal Afar, where Army Reserve Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe trained Iraqi troops

Published Tuesday April 18 2006
The Beaufort Gazette

Having lost her brother eight months ago to the battlefields of Iraq, Kate Olin has every right to be bitter about the war now entering its fourth year. Instead, she said she wants to spread the word about the positive happenings in Iraq.

She wants the world to know her brother didn't die in vain.

"Terry's death is of no more or less importance than any of the other soldiers that have been killed," Olin said. "There is a simple lesson in Terry's death -- that like Terry, and each of the other soldiers that have died -- the U.S. will remain in the lead if necessary until the Iraqis gain their own confidence and can stand fully on their own two feet."

The June 7 death of her brother, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Terrence Crowe, 44, garnered national publicity because of his high rank and because he died while leading Iraqi soldiers into combat.

Crowe served in the Army for 20 years and was a member of a New York Army Reserve Unit when he deployed in October 2004.

The village in which he served, Tal Afar was thrust into the national spotlight by President Bush as a success story in Iraq when Crowe's regiment returned to the U.S. in February, with the 1st Armored Division sent as a replacement.

And that's the story Olin wants told. She cherishes a letter sent by the mayor of Tal Afar to the president and family members of those, who like Crowe, served in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, "liberating" the city that had been "held hostage in the hands" of the followers of Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, as Tal Afar Mayor Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri said in his letter.

"With skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing any unnecessary damage," Jibouri said in the letter.

In a telephone interview, Jibouri said through an interpreter he hadn't met Crowe, but he heard from leaders of this regiment that he was "a courageous and honest man."

He said he wrote the letter because he felt a deep emotional need to explain what American sacrifices have meant to his city. He didn't expect the publicity given to the letter or his city by President Bush.

Jibouri said he doesn't care "however the media portrays it. I wrote the truth, and I hope that's what people see."

Before the regiment's major operation, there was an average of four to 10 killings a day in his city, Jibouri said, but afterward, that number was reduced to one to two killings a week.

Upon first hearing the regiment was leaving, Jibouri said he was "upset," but after a few weeks with their replacements, he feels they're just as good.

"I feel the city is just as safe as when the (3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment) was here," he said.

The mayor attended a funeral for two police officers recently, and though "it's still sad and tragic. We're still fighting the insurgency," but now "the children are laughing and playing here," adding it was too windy to hear over the phone their joyful noises.

"As time goes on, Tal Afar will be an example in Iraq for security and the people," Jibouri said.

Dan Crowe, younger brother to Olin and Terrence Crowe, said the mayor's letter reaffirmed the encouraging success stories his brother told him of the Army in Tal Afar.

"Two weeks before he died, my brother said, 'I don't care on your position on the war. I've been over there, and those people need help,'" said Dan Crowe, who lives in San Diego. "He was a big believer in helping people out. He was all about kids and children."

Terrence Crowe left behind two teenagers and a hole in his family, Olin said.

"The only thing I mourn as much as Terry's death is the now vacant role he played in our family," she said. "When you are lucky enough to have such a wonderful, strong personality in a family and that person is suddenly gone -- the entire family dynamic changes."

However, Dan Crowe, who served in the Army for a decade, said none of his three other siblings or parents were upset Terrence Crowe put himself in harm's way by choosing to deploy when he could have retired or taught in a classroom. Instead he chose to teach soldiers on the battlefield.

"The family was concerned," Dan Crowe said. "But an understanding exists there was reason behind all his actions. He had not done it from a self-serving position."

Olin said just as the U.S. is leading Iraq in rebuilding a country, Crowe led and set an example for the Iraqi troops he trained. When he died, he was leading Iraqi soldiers. Crowe always led them because he never asked anything of his soldiers he wouldn't do himself, Olin said.

While leading the way, he and the Iraqi soldiers were ambushed. He was shot in the leg, the bullet burst an artery and he bled to death before the scattered and confused Iraqi troops were able to recover him.

Olin said she considers the U.S. officer and two Iraqis who recovered Crowe heroes, but she doesn't blame some of the Iraqi soldiers who ran away. After all, she said, they were fairly new soldiers without much combat experience.

Crowe told his family that he had seen improvement in the Iraqi army while he was training them.

The last time Olin saw her brother was during his leave in May in New York, just weeks before his death.

"I wish he would've talked more," Olin said.

Olin and Dan Crowe agreed that their brother's death didn't affect their continual support for the war in Iraq.

"I, like so many others, believe that liberty, freedom and democracy will prevail in Iraq and that the world be a much better place because of it. I pray that the world can find the resolve to support the people of Iraq in their quest."

Jibouri said he hopes the American people know his city is thankful for the dramatic difference they've already seen.

"I see the souls of the soldiers in the faces and laughter of the children," he said. "I hope (the American people) have the patience and will be able to see what the sacrifice of American soldiers has provided for the city and the people."