Local veterans keep eye on violence in Iraq

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Indiana veterans who served in Iraq are keeping a close eye on the latest violence in the Middle Eastern nation.

You couldn't get much further from the conflict in Iraq Thursday than Potbelly Sandwich Shop on Monument Circle.

"What do you like on it? Mayo, mustard, hot peppers?" asked owner Chuck Brewer as he served customers during the busy lunch rush.

But what's happening 6,500 miles from Indy is top of mind for Brewer, a reserve lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marines. He served two tours of duty in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. It's difficult for him to watch as Iraqi cities and towns he helped liberate are now falling to insurgents.

"I hope that we're able to take back control without another ten years of loss of life," said Brewer.

More than 4,400 U.S. service members have been killed since the beginning of the war, more than 32,000 injured, including Greenfield native Josh Bleill. Bleill lost both legs in a roadside bombing in 2006.

"In my incident, I lost two. One was my roommate and one was my sergeant. And that's the hardest thing...for their families," said Bleill.

He calls the current situation in Iraq "heart-wrenching."

"I think about my sacrifices and the sacrifices of my brothers and sisters and it's hard. You don't want to see that," he said. "My hope really is that we figure out a way to help or to find a resolution that they don't get put back in the same situation that we got them out of."

Chuck Brewer agrees. And says if the call came, he'd be prepared.

"There's a lot of Marines that would go back over there to make this right. We've already been there. I've been there twice. I've got buddies that have been there twice, three, four, five times. We would go back over there to make this right," he said.