A soldier's take on 10 years of war in Afghanistan - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

A soldier's take on 10 years of war in Afghanistan

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As Americans prepare for another fun, football filled weekend, Friday will mark  an anniversary few of us would have ever imagined: the 10 year anniversary of the United States' War in Afghanistan. 

In fact, our two ongoing wars continue to be the longest in U.S. history at 10 years in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq.

The Vietnam War previously was the longest at close to eight years followed by the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

While they are the longest by years, the death toll of the current wars pale in comparison to previous wars. 

More than 600,000 soldiers were killed on both sides in the Civil War, more than 400,000 in World War II, and 58,000 in Vietnam.  4,421 soldiers in Iraq were killed, and the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan stands at 1800.

However, the death of every member of the military is equally important and reminds us of our history of preserving freedom for the U.S. and for others around the world.

10 years ago, terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  Then, President George W. Bush made a promise.

"I can hear you.  The rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon," said Bush.

News Leader Nine spoke with Major Jim Hathaway for his perspective on this long war.  He is stationed on Fort Benning and was among the first soldiers in combat in Afghanistan.

He has served in the Army for 22 years with two tours in Afghanistan and three deployments in Iraq.

"The first time we were actually going after the people who had performed the attacks: going after Al-Queda, going after some of the Taliban," said Hathaway of his first deployment in Afghanistan.

He and a group of his fellow Rangers made their way to the Middle East only weeks after the September 11th attacks.

"We had signed up to do that.  We were doing our job.  So, there was no animosity.  Everybody knew what we were doing and everybody went out and did that," said Hathaway.

As the War in Afghanistan continues, studies show support for the government's decision to keep soldiers in the fight is dropping.

Many people say they cannot justify the more than $400 billion already spent on the war in this struggling economy.

One study shows one third of veterans do not think the War in Afghanistan or Iraq were worth the sacrifices.

Another study shows that nearly 60% of the people in our country do not think we should be in Afghanistan anymore. 

However, Hathaway encourages soldiers and civilians to look at the good the wars are doing like saving the life of a little boy name Ahab.

"The whole town turned and became very, very pro U.S. because we helped that little boy and to see kids like that to see the future there actually grow," said Hathaway.

The long war also has a toll the families the soldiers leave behind.  Hathaway's wife Keleigh and their 7 year old son, Colin, have endured his multiple deployments.

"There are days when you just want to sit down and have a good cry because you don't want to have to deal with another deployment, and you're like, ‘Another one?  We have to do another one?'" said Keleigh.

However, for Hathaway and his family serving is why he joined the Army.

"You just kind of have to pull yourself up and know that this is his job and this is what he has chosen to do.  Kind of take a deep breath, and you're going to get through it," said Keleigh.

"All these kids coming in now, they have volunteered knowing that they could go overseas.  And, it doesn't stop them," said Hathaway.

In June of 2011, President Barack Obama announced the start of a withdrawal of 33,000 troops from Afghanistan.

The government says they plan to transfer lead security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2014.

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