Editor’s note: John Rivera of Cathedral City submitted the following opinion piece on the Kurds and Kurdish forces. The opinions expressed here are his.

How Can I Ever Thank the Kurds? [Opinion]In March 2003 the Army 10th Mountain Division, 14th Regiment, Alpha Co Special Forces Rangers and Light Infantry was deployed to Erbil in the northern region of Iraq where they were embedded with our allied Kurdish Forces to secure the oil fields in the north.

My son’s always spoken very highly of the Kurds. He said they were so generous in giving —even when they had so little to give. They shared their meals, opened their homes and extended their friendship. When my son said he wanted to better understand the people he was fighting for, he was gifted a set of Korans, one in English and the other in Arabic. These Korans remain in the home today.

How Can I Ever Thank the Kurds? [Opinion]When our soldiers established a forward operating base in Erbil, resupply was uncertain so they trained with Kurds using their Soviet Arms in the event the Army’s own ammunition and supplies ran out. This and other issues and events were things my son talked about only in bits and pieces over the years as he was never one who spoke with ease about the Iraq war. One day I joked with my son that he needed to be more careful as his nine lives were running out. He merely said, “Dad, my nine lives ran out long ago.”

From the time he returned home after his first tour in Iraq — and even until this day — I have always felt in debt to these Kurdish soldiers, whom I will never know, for their role in my son’s safe return home. I don’t know how it would’ve turned out otherwise for this one Company of American Soldiers, in such isolation from major US forces at the southern border of Iraq, had it not been for the support of our allies, the Kurds.

How Can I Ever Thank the Kurds? [Opinion]Now we have a president who turned his back on the Kurdish Forces along the southern Turkish border, withdrawing support, abandoning the Kurds and defending his decision saying, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy.” Trump brashly claimed he defeated ISIS by himself, giving no acknowledgement of the heavy price paid by the Kurds in loss of life both by soldiers and civilians in this war on terrorism.

As my son always talked about how the Kurds were so generous in giving even when they had so little to give, it seems clear to me this decision by Trump was easy to make when in his estimation they had nothing to give that he personally wanted.

What do I say to the Kurdish people with whom I have felt in debt to for so many years? What do we say to the Kurdish people who stood with us in the Iraq war and the battle to defeat ISIS? And what if, God forbid, our young soldiers should have to return to this region for yet another war? Who then will we turn to as our allies in the next war given that America’s now considered an unreliable ally?



How Can I Ever Thank the Kurds? [Opinion]

How Can I Ever Thank the Kurds? [Opinion]

Image Sources

  • Kurdish allies: John Rivera
  • Kurdish forces: John Rivera
  • John Rivera Iraq: John Rivera
  • In Iraq: John Rivera
  • Kurdish friendship: John Rivera