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"Being a father and being a husband myself, if I feel in danger in any way, I'm gonna shoot somebody; I'm gonna do what it takes to get myself home ..." (Audio Interview, 17:51)

   James R. Welch
Image of James R. Welch
James Welch [2005]
War: Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, 2001-present
Branch: Army
Unit: 4th Infantry Division, B Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT)
Service Location: Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Carson, Colorado; Iraq
Highest Rank: Specialist
Place of Birth: Toledo, OH
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As an infantry soldier with the Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in 2003, Specialist James Welch searched homes for weapons and set up security checkpoints. He served seven months in country, suffering from a broken collar bone, but focused on getting his job done and returning safely to his family. Indifferent to how the media portrayed the war or how politics played into it, Welch wanted to give the Iraqi people a better life, even if they did not always seem to view the Americans in such a noble light. On one mission, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in which he was riding was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). Though missions may have proved scary for Welch, letters from family and school children gave him and his fellow soldiers the support they needed to get through.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview  (42 min.)
»Photo Album (4 photos)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Most fighting taking place in towns and at checkpoints; informants used by Saddam Hussein to avoid capture; shooting up car of father and son who did not stop at checkpoint; first defending self. (01:36) Riding in back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle when hit by an improvised explosive device (IED): hearing huge bang, vehicle shaking, several suffering from concussions, finding hole where IED exploded, pulling out shrapnel, impact ripping off chunks of the side of the Bradley. (02:03) Mixed reaction by the local populace to the troops' presence. (00:39)
Not understanding the differences between the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds; just doing his job and focusing on getting home to his family; "if they were a bad guy, they were a bad guy." (01:23) Economic disparities between Saddam Hussein and the civilian population; wanting to give the Iraqi people a better life and free them from dictatorship; reasons for fighting. (01:47) 
Home » James R. Welch
  The Library of Congress
  May 29, 2007
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