DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s ten years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, leading to the dethroning of dictator Saddam Hussein. Over those years, thousands of American soldiers have lost their lives, including more than 200 from Michigan.
That includes 22-year-old Private First Class Damian Bushart from Waterford, who was killed just eight months after the U.S. invasion when a tank collided with his vehicle in 2003. His father, Skip Bushart, said it’s been a long ten years.
“They say time heals all wounds but the loss of a child like that, I don’t think it ever really does. The first two years are always the toughest, but as time goes on, there’s always the memory,” Bushart told WWJ’s Zahra Huber.
Bushart, a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran, said his son was following two generations of military men when he enlisted in the Army.
“He was in the military and we always knew in the back of our mind that it was a possibility, it just never seemed like it could actually happen,” he said.
The day Bushart was forced to come face to face with the realization that his son was killed was one he said he’ll never forget.
“It’s just like being kicked in the chest or the pit of your stomach by a mule with both hooves, you know, it just takes the air out of you and drives you to your knees,” he said.
Bushart said the tragic loss of his son has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise, however, because it’s given him a completely new outlook.
“It helps me appreciate life itself all the more, and even more so with my other son, my younger son, to just relish every day with him also,” he said.
In October 2011, President Barack Obama announced that the long and polarizing war in Iraq was finally over and that our troops were finally coming home.