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Local Reservist Tells of Danger in Iraq

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – In the last couple of days Pentagon officials said there have been 25 anti-U.S. attacks on American Troops and their supporters in Iraq.

A local army reservist stationed in Iraq said it is more dangerous now that the war is over.

Staff Sergeant Tom Tran with the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion from Tonawanda said he and other members must continue to wear full gear and treat areas they work in as a "combat zone."

Tran said Iraq is not a safe place for U.S. soldiers. He said they never go out alone and always remain as a team to ensure that they stay alert.

"90 percent of the country wants us here, but there's always those pockets of resistance we have to look out for," said Tran.

"It is actually more dangerous for us now. Yes, the war is over, but things get a little more causal and people may get more complacent, so you start thinking we are not in a combat zone."

The unit arrived well before the start of war and now members continue to conduct humanitarian efforts.

Tran, who is from Cheektowaga, and a local radio broadcaster, is helping the Iraqis rebuild infrastructure and schools.

"I'm working on helping to rebuild a radio and television station here so we can get news and information out," said Tran.

"One thing we've found is most of the people here are starving for information. They want information, not just propaganda which they've gotten."

Tran said it is "encouraging" to see how excited some of the Iraqi people react as U.S. forces assist in building a democracy, a new government that will rely on its people after the Saddam Hussien dictatorship.

But Tran said they are very worn out from their stay in Iraq.

He said team sergeants warned that after serving about five months they would feel like they "hit a wall".

"For a lot of us, especially on my team, we hit that wall," said Tran.

"We are all getting very frustrated and flustered. We've just been gone for so long. It seems like there's a lot against us - the heat, the weather, outside sources, and things we can't control."

"It's getting to the point where we are all tired. We are very, very tired," said Tran.

Tran is hoping to return home by this fall, but said no definite date has been issued.

Right now he said troops only rely on rumors and heresy to help pass the days.