The American Soldier:

Marine Marcos Soltero

Marine Marcos Soltero

War is not an ideal situation for a culture exchange, but when the first troops rolled into Iraq from Kuwait in 2003, thousands of fresh-faced American soldiers came face to face with a people they knew almost nothing about. Carlos Soltero was one of them. Growing up with his grandparents in Torrance, he always told them he wanted to be a Marine.

He enlisted when he was just 17, two months after the Twin Towers fell in 2001 and he took off for basic training three months after high school graduation. In Infantry School, he was told to prepare to go, as he says, to “the big dance.” But there was very little time for any kind of “cultural sensitivity” training. Soltero and his comrades certainly learned on the job, but each time he returned from Iraq, his relationship changed with the people he was supposedly “liberating.”

After three tours of Iraq, Carlos Soltero left the Marine Corps as a Corporal. He’ll get his BA in Political Science this May from Cal State Dominguez Hills. He intends to go on to get a graduate degree.

Here’s his story:

 

The Iraqi Refugee:

Tariq Abu Khumra in Los Angeles.

Tariq Abu Khumra in Los Angeles.

Tariq Abu Khumra was threatened after working with American and British forces in Iraq. He moved to the United States less than a year ago and now works as a database programmer and lives in the San Fernando Valley. He had to leave his entire family in Iraq.

Here’s what he remembers about when US troops rolled through Baghdad.

You can hear more about the personal impact and the politics of the war on To the Point.

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