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thedrifter
06-25-08, 03:19 PM
Posted: Tuesday, June 24th 2008 at 2:20pm
Gainesville Marine recalls experiences in Iraq
By Ashley Cox Staff

GAINESVILLE - On Tuesday the Gainesville Kiwanis Club heard from the Marine responsible for bringing two young Iraqi children to the United States for heart surgeries earlier this year.

Marine Maj. Kevin Jarrard told the story of Operation Amenah, who "quickly captured the hearts of the Marines serving in our command."

Jarrard befriended Amenah's father and arranged for her to be flown to Nashville this spring for surgery to correct a heart defect. On Tuesday, he recalled her safe return home.

"As I sat in her living room and played with little Amenah and saw the tears on her daddy's face as he saw his little girl who went away in critical condition and returned home healthy and happy, assured of a happy life for many years, it was tremendously rewarding."

Added Jarrard: "I hope that the people of Haditha will remember the legacy of the Marines as not simply one of justice, but one of peace."

Jarrard also spoke of his other experiences in the Al Anbar province of Haditha, where his unit was stationed. While they worked to keep Al Qaeda away from the area, they also focused on building relationships with the Iraqi people.

Jarrard said the province will be turned over to Iraqi authorities this week, and that they are prepared to fight Al Qaeda wherever they exist.

"I don't think Al Qaeda will ever again regain a foothold in that part of Iraq," he said. "The Iraqis have had enough, and they are prepared to fight on their own."

Jarrard said he has seen war firsthand. He has buried comrades. And he wishes to experience peace, "but not at the expense of justice."

He said though we have a long way to go, he is optimistic about the future of Iraq.

"It is my fervent prayer that America will spare no men or materials to ensure that the wrong shall fail and the right prevail."

Ellie