Sgt. Nicole Marle

This young woman I met at Wallbangers. She is a former Iraqi vet who did two tours in-country. She did liaison work with the Iraqis. Here is the interview with the Mountain Mail.

Local veteran speaks about end of Iraq war

Cailey McDermott, Mail Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, December 26, 2011 9:53 am

The war in Iraq ended Dec. 15 after more than eight years – nearly 4,500 American lives were lost, more than 100,000 Iraqis died and it cost $800 billion plus interest.

Veteran U.S. Army Sgt. Nicole Marle of Howard was deployed to Iraq twice for 15 months from 2008 to 2009 and for six months in 2010. She joined the Army in October 2004 and served 4½ years.

Marle works full-time at Wallbangers Sports Bar and Grill and part-time at Roxy’s Bottle Shop. She grew up in Salida and although she’s been around the world twice, she said she’s never found another place like here.

When she received a choice of re-enlisting or getting out, she decided to return to the Salida area to be close to her parents and to help them with their business, We’ll Floor You.

Marle said it was a difficult decision, but decided she could always go back if she wanted.

After her return, she joined the Army Reserves, but said it isn’t anything like the Army.

During her first tour she was active Army. She said she hated staying on base and preferred being “boots on ground.”

“We will always have a vested interest in Iraq,” Marle said. “It will never really be over.”

She said, “The civil war among Muslim sects will continue. It’s been going on thousands of years, but most of the locals are just trying to live in peaceful communities – like Salida.”

Things made sense during her first deployment, she said.

“We knew why we were there. The country was a complete mess, but we had clear missions to diffuse situations and try to train Iraqis.”

She said training Iraqis was difficult because the population is largely uneducated and people “weren’t enthusiastic about learning.”

A basic second-grade reading level was required before anything else could be taught, she said.

Marle was an investigator seeking information about possible terrorists in neighborhoods, current threats and weapons caches, she said.

The information was handed over to be followed up on, Marle said.

She was honorably discharged from the Army in February 2009. Marle said she had a lot of leave saved up and was able to get out early.

In April 2010 she was redeployed to Iraq as a contractor with the Department of Defense and worked mostly with Army assets, she said.

When she returned in 2010, the “powers that be” showed a lack of interest in getting involved and she said that shocked her. It became more about punching in and punching out, she said.

There were still threats to civil contractors, and department of defense soldiers, she said, “were still needed to protect them while they worked.”

Information gathered by her team wasn’t followed up any more, she said.

“In my field that’s not what you do. We make sure everything is safe and secure.”

After she joined the Army, she said, “I became the person I was supposed to be. It was really the best experience I’ve ever had.”

Her two older brothers, Peter and Albert, also served in Iraq. Peter was in the U.S. Air Force and Albert was in special forces.

“Growing up, I don’t know what attracted us (to the military) but we all succeeded in it,” she said.

“If the Army called me this afternoon, I would have my duffle bag packed.”

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