Clara Hogan - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 4/21/08
When America invaded Iraq, Andrew Huff believed President Bush when
he said it was for a reason. Five years, a gunshot wound, and two
friends' deaths later, he's changed his mind.
The 25-year-old from Minneapolis spent more than a year living out of
a tent, working on Iraq's streets for over 14 hours a day, sleeping
only when he was lucky. For 13 months, he watched the war-torn
country, and he has now decided to speak out against U.S. involvement.
Huff - who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 - was one of the 150
people to march down Iowa City's streets Sunday. The rally was a part
of the Campus Antiwar Network's regional conference, aiming to
strengthen the movement against the Iraq war, said David Goodner, the
head of the UI Antiwar Committee.
Students from Cincinnati, Madison, Wis., Chicago, Milwaukee,
Champagne-Urbana, Ill., and Iowa City spent the weekend attending
activities on campus. On Sunday, the group walked along downtown
streets, banging on drums, chanting messages, and turning heads.
At one point, they took up both lanes in the middle of Gilbert Street.
Huff served at Camp Ashraf in a town situated north of Baghdad. His
normal days consisted of patrolling streets, raiding buildings, and
running ambushes. Iraqi citizens were often resistant.
"They were nice to your face," he said. "But at night, they'd plant
bombs in the road, hoping to see you dead."
Huff was awarded one day off per month, though he usually spent that
time helping another unit. He is a new member of Iraq Veterans
Against the War, and though he is happy with the movement, he is
frustrated by society's disconnect as a whole.
"While this chaos is happening with our money and our citizens'
lives, people are just going about their business," he said. "People
need to wake up."
Max Wallin of White Bear, Minn. - a 22-year-old who served in Iraq in
2006 and 2007 - has followed the group to several campus events this
year. He was against the war from the start, but because he was
stationed at a reserve in his town when the United States invaded, he
had no choice but to go.
"The soldiers over there are doing the best they can, and they should
be commended," he said. "But the reality is, we aren't helping."
Most at the rally were not Iraq veterans but rather, supporters of
the antiwar movement.
One of those people was Hans Barbe, 23, of Detroit, who said he
thought the UI campus was more disconnected than others he had
traveled to during the conference.
All said that there is no obvious solution to helping the Iraqis, but
America should help itself first.
"We can't police them forever," Huff said.
E-mail DI reporter Clara Hogan at: email@example.com