Local Iraq vet assesses war on anniversary

WOODSTOCK \On this anniversary, a suburban soldier back home from the conflict is reflecting on the war and its costs.

The best part about being home, says Bryan Henning, is seeing friends and family daily. He enlisted after graduating from Woodstock High School. He was in Iraq for 15 months. This anniversary of the Iraq war he watches from home.

The only anniversary to celebrate in the Henning home is the three-month anniversary of Bryan Henning coming home.

"Probably the proudest moment of my life was when our airplane touched down on U.S. soil, everybody started cheering," said Bryan Henning.

"It's great to have him home, much better than being over there, having to worry about him, not knowing what's going on," said Bruce Henning, father.

"Having him back is just so wonderful, not to have to worry about the emails or the phone calls, you know, if this is going to be the last one you hear from him. Now when he calls you're like, 'OK, he's just down the street,'" said Darcy Kniola, sister.

Henning was with the Army's 3rd Brigade that lost 56 soldiers. Henning himself suffered a concussion when an explosive detonated beneath his vehicle. While he did see combat, he said, he also saw Iraqis in need. He says his infantry was charged with rebuilding infrastructure and training Iraqi army soldiers in Baquba.

"They didn't have electricity and couldn't make food, and they didn't even have the flour there if they got the electricity running to make the food with," said Bryan Henning.

He'd like to see more American troops come home too but says they're obliged to stay until the Iraqi army can stand on its own.

"We train them and show them our techniques and movements. If we get them to a certain level to where they're strong enough to do it on their own, then we should be able to pull it off," he said. Henning's father is a Vietnam era veteran. Bruce Henning was at a welcome home celebration Tuesday night for Staff Sergeant Richard Stanek another young man from Woodstock.

Bryan Henning is now going to college and wants to be a paramedic or emergency room doctor.

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