Middle East experiences
Three area soldiers talk about their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq:
STAFF SGT. ELIZABETH MILANI.
Unit: 475th Quartermaster Group, Army Reserve Center, Farrell, Pa.
Middle East tours: Afghanistan, December 2002 to August 2003; Iraq, December 2004 to November 2005.
Residence: Newton Falls.
Education: Bristol High School, 2000.
Family: Parents, Rich and Joann Milani, of Brookfield; brother, Scott, of Austintown; and sister, Angela Lockwood, of Cortland.
Quote: These are excerpts from an e-mail Milani sent to her parents from Iraq explaining why she thinks the United States is right to be there. She titled it "Why I Am Here."
"Not many people will ever know about ... will ever see all the good we are doing out here. Yes, people die, and it IS dangerous, but there is a much bigger picture than what is on TV. We are ... helping those who can't help themselves. Helping a country learn how to defend themselves against their own terrorists.
"If I ever start to wonder why I'm here, all I have to do is look at my right shoulder which has the American flag on it ... and the answer is clear. I'm here for my country and my family, and millions of people I will never meet, because that is who I am. I am a soldier, that's all I know, and that all I'm capable of."
ARMY RESERVE STAFF SGT. PAUL LUTUMBUEZ.
Unit: 423rd Quartermaster Battalion, Kunkel Army Reserve Center, Lordstown.
Middle East tours: Afghanistan, February to November 2003; Iraq, March to November 2003, and September 2004 to March 2006.
Education: High school in Los Angeles, Calif.; New York State University.
Family: Son, Joseph, of California.
Quote: "I believe we have to pull out [of Iraq]. I think we need to get other Arab nations more involved in the situation. Let's make sure the Arab people are the ones taking care of it. As long as we are occupying, we can never win."
AIR FORCE RESERVE CHIEF MASTER SGT. TROY RHOADES.
Unit: Air Force Reserve Command, Warner Robbins AFB, Ga.; formerly with 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Vienna.
Current assignment: Oversees security at Air Force Reserve bases around the U.S.
Middle East tours: Qatar, February through June 2002; February through July 2003, Kuwait and Iraq.
Education: Pymatuning Valley High School, Andover, 1983; Youngstown State University, bachelor of science in business administration. Family: Wife, Christine.
Quote: Rhoades sat in the first town hall meeting held in Iraq. "It was actually amazing. At the time, they were very leery of what was happening. Saddam was not yet captured. What was interesting, I was sitting there involved in a situation like the U.S. had in the 1600s, involved in planning what they were going to do. It gave me goose bumps, to be part of history."