The crisis in Iraq is hitting home for two metro area men. One man's son was killed in Iraq. The other was an Army veteran who was deployed twice to Iraq.
Michael Stokely, 23, was in Iraq three months when a roadside bomb near Baghdad killed him. Stokely was one of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq between 2003-2012.
Stokely's father, Robert, still wears his dog tag around his neck.
Watching the al Qaeda-inspired terror group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, taking over more Iraqi towns and marching towards Baghdad, Robert Stokely told Channel 2’s Diana Davis that it’s a bitter pill for him to swallow after the sacrifice of his son and so many troops.
“It’s tragic that 4,000
-plus American military personnel gave their lives to win and secure the peace; to have it literally evaporating overnight,” Stokely said.
ISIS claims to have killed 1,700 Iraqi security forces.
Monday, some Iraqi forces are reported to be fighting back against extremists; others surrendered.
Will Hatton of Sandy Springs served two tours in Iraq. He told Davis that he was on missions to help train Iraqi forces.
He told Davis that what is happening now in Iraq does not come as a surprise.
“When I was leaving after my second deployment there was definitely a feeling of uncertainty about the Iraqi military. The soldiers themselves were capable, but it was always the leadership that I always questioned,” Hatton said.
Both men told Davis that to see the instability in Iraq feels like a kick in the gut.
“To give away what they died for, that is a sad day for the American people,” Stokely said.
“I don’t feel like the time over there was a waste. I just think it’s sad to see it that it's turned out the way it has. I think I have to be optimistic about it and hope that the Iraqi government can handle the situation. If we have to get involved I think we kind of owe it to the people of Iraq,” Hatton said.