EAGAN, Minn. - Leaders around the world are expressing alarm over the situation in Iraq. Militant fighters are capturing key cities to put into place their strict version of Islamic law. The takeover is concerning to soldiers here at home, as well.
Retired Army Veteran Joe Repya is reminded of those who sacrificed every day.
A picture of his friend, who was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, sits on the top shelf of a bookcase in the office of his Eagan home. The news came on Mother's Day 2006.
"He had just been promoted to major. His helicopter was shot down," Repya said as he glanced at his photo.
Repya is a veteran of three tours and most recently he served in Iraq.
And that is why the collapse of Iraq is so troubling for the retired aviation lieutenant colonel.
"I have friends who died on that battlefield and I have friends who are walking around with one or two legs or an arm missing from the Iraq battlefield and I just hate to see that happen to the sacrifice that these people have made," he said. "We lost a lot of men, blood and treasure in Iraq to just turn around for political correctness or political reasons."
John Kriesel is among those who sacrificed. He uses a cane to get around after losing his legs during the war. Like Repya, Kriesel said he's proud of the work U.S. Soldiers have done, but he thinks it's time for the Iraqi to "fight for stability and defend their nation from terrorists."
Kriesel traded e-mail with KARE 11 Thursday and said additional American military involvement in Iraq would do little to stabilize Iraq in the long term if the people of Iraq are unwilling to fight for their own freedom.
"I find the current situation very troubling. The fact that an estimated 30,000 Iraqi Army/Iraqi Police officers abandoned their post when faced with an enemy force (ISIS) of roughly 800 does not bode well for the future of Iraq," he said. "In order for Iraq to enjoy long term stability, Iraqis will need to be willing to fight for stability and defend their nation from terrorists. The current Iraqi military lacks discipline and courage.
Indeed, it's a debate with opinions on every side.
"I would not like to see us put boots on the ground again. Drones could do an awful lot of damage to the groups that are now moving on Baghdad," Repya said. Since Tuesday, ISIL militants have overrun Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and Tikrit, birthplace of Saddam Hussein, plunging the country into turmoil less than three years after the departure of American troops. About 500,000 refugees have fled the fighting, setting the stage for a humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, The White House is ruling out ground troops.