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America at War

Revisiting the Deadly Force Tour

Bill Radke

Karen Fritsche

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Family Groove
(Courtesy Mike Pacheco)
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Groove Alliance - Hussein's Song (short version)

Mike Pacheco: It makes me angry, to be honest with you, at times to think that throughout the last four years somehow we have forgotten the face of Iraq, those millions of Iraqis who are in the middle of this conflict and who are struggling everyday to make their lives better. And if the American people could connect to average Iraqis, I think that the average American would change their mind right away, and realize that these are people who want freedom, and they're really not unlike you and I.

Bill Radke: When you were with us last, Mike, you told us about a young Iraqi man named Hussein. You had done reconstruction work with him, and your band invited him up on stage to sing with you. Will you tell us what happened to Hussein?

Sure. First of all, Hussein was actually one of those workers in our building who just lit up the building every time he walked in. He was Shia, he lived in a predominantly Sunni area, and was forced to leave his neighborhood. But I can tell you that in our building, the Shia workers and Sunni workers and Christian workers all loved Hussein. This is a guy who really touched everyone's life. And that day that he came and spent time on stage with the band was a day that he said was the best day of his life. He had never experienced anything like that. His family was under constant threat from extremist factions. And eventually, as is the case with many of our friends, on the way home from work, very soon after the band left, he was killed by a sniper's bullet.

Mike, you're obviously still feel connected to Iraq. Now you're home. What will you do next?

Well, certainly go back to the band. I was a contractor for Department of Homeland Security. And I certainly, in the short term, plan to do that again. But there have been offers to go back to Baghdad, working for a USAID contract. And I'm thinking very seriously of going back and completing some of that work.

How do you weigh that desire to go back and finish your work against wanting to be with your wife and your new baby?

My wife understands how deeply I feel about this and that there will always be that knock at the back of my head all the time that says, you had the opportunity to go back and help these people and you didn't. Either because it was easier to stay home or more comfortable to stay home. When in fact my friends there are not in very much comfort every single day. So I think I have an obligation.

More stories from our America at War series


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