Ten years after: C. Oregonians recall Iraq war

Worry for a brother in service; remembering Iraqis' first vote

POSTED: 6:32 PM PDT March 19, 2013    UPDATED: 12:04 PM PDT March 22, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Many people in Central Oregon watched as loved ones were deployed to Iraq 10 years ago. The war had a reaching effect, not just on the battlefield but right here on the High Desert.

"I was sitting in the back of an office, grading papers in a classroom by myself listening to the radio," Alison Perry said Tuesday. "When they announced that 'We have just begun bombing Baghdad,' it just hit me like a bolt of lightning and I just burst into tears."

March 13th, 2003 changed Perry's life forever. Her brother, Todd, was among the first troops to invade Iraq, working as an Apache helicopter pilot.

"It felt like a part of me was in another part of the world, like I was missing part of my body," Perry said.

Ten years ago, many Americans were left with the same feeling. Maj. Christopher Kerr, who now lives in Bend, had found the woman of his dreams and was training in Kentucky.

"Newly married, excited because this is  what soldiers do," Kerr said. But at the same time pretty apprehensive about having to leave my new family as well."

On his tour of duty, Kerr was able to watch history unfold, the day Iraqis were allowed to vote for the first time.

"The purple stain on the finger, and how excited they were -- it was a good feeling, knowing that we were able to help provide that," Kerr said.

Photos of her brother still hang on Allison Perry's office wall, along with gifts her brother has sent here from his several tours of duty. They remind her of the day 10 years ago when the U.S. invaded Iraq

"For these servicepeople, the war is not over, and it is incumbent on us as a society to never forget our veterans and never forget what they've been through," Perry said.