Some Democrats are raising concerns about the troops in service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wednesday, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-MO, said he fears service members are being pushed to the breaking point.
It’s a concern that was echoed by one Bay Area soldier who recently returned from Iraq. Army Reserve Sgt. Koka Sexton of the San Jose-based 341st Military Police returned to a joyous homecoming at Moffet Field last month. But he had believed he was to return to the U.S. three months prior. Five days before he was supposed to come home, he got new orders to stay.
“The unit was heartbroken,” Sexton said.
Sexton’s emotional and articulate emails were copied and forwarded throughout the world — especially the one in which he told his family his military unit was being kept in Iraq beyond their expected one year duty. It meant another three months of combat patrols, dodging hidden roadside bombs, and almost hopelessly trying to keep Iraqi drivers from getting killed in the explosions meant for him.
“The best way I can explain it, if you were driving down 680 and there is north and southbound lanes, if northbound was closed, they’d just continue north in the southbound lanes and just really screw everything up,” Sexton said.
Sexton says the U.S. military is spread so thin in Iraq that he and his fellow soldiers found it hard to believe they were going home, even as they prepared to board the plane to leave.
“I remember standing on the tarmac and looking at our plane… and thinking, ‘They can still tell us we’re staying,'” Sexton said.
And there’s no guarantee they won’t be ordered back.
“It could happen. I do think about it,” Sexton said. “I try not to talk about it with my fiancee, my family. But I know it’s in the back of everybody’s minds.”
Sexton says he hopes it was all worth it — that ten years from now, he can look back and say he had a part in something that turned out well. But he also says that right now there’s no way to tell which way it will go.