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CINCINNATI (AP) — Jason Dominguez remembers vividly his last conversation with David Kreuter, as they were doing an overnight security watch from a rooftop in western Iraq.

Marine Cpl. Dominguez and Sgt. Kreuter usually joked around, but this night 15 years ago was different. Kreuter proudly showed him a photo of his 7-week-old son.

“Wow, you’re a father!” Dominguez exclaimed.

“Yeah, I am,” replied Kreuter, 26, who then talked excitedly about getting to see and hold baby Christian for the first time. “His priorities in life had just shifted,” recalled Dominguez, who, like the rest of the Lima (pronounced LEE’-muh) Company Marines, also looked forward to the end of their tour of duty in a couple more months.

The next day, Aug. 3, Kreuter was among 15 people killed by a roadside bomb near the town of Hiditha. Eleven of them were Lima Company Marines.

The Columbus, Ohio-based Reserve unit was among the hardest-hit of the war in Iraq, losing 23 men after 180 deployed in early 2005. They held a reunion in 2015, and another was planned this month but had to be canceled amid coronavirus restrictions.

The first day of the reunion would have included a Marines-only workshop on coping with their painful memories and trauma all these years later, said Bryan Hillberg, a survivor who lives near the village of Waynesville in southwest Ohio.

“Some stuff is seared into your brain and some of it is just fuzzy,” said Hillberg, 39.

Seared in: Aug. 3. Hillberg’s head and shoulders were out of his amphibious assault vehicle as the lance corporal served as gunner for the second vehicle in the convoy, just ahead of the one hit by the bomb.

“When it blew, it shook everything,” he said. “I remember looking back and it flipped it and split it in a way that with all the dust and everything, the shape looked normal. I looked at my buddy and said ‘Thank God, they missed.’”

He quickly realized he was wrong.

Dominguez was two vehicles back from the exploded one.

Story continues

“You saw the orange ball of fire and you just knew,” Dominguez said.

It was the final blow of a deadly week in that area: Two Lima Company Marines also were killed while “clearing” houses of any possible insurgents, and six Marine snipers were lost when their outposts were overrun by insurgents.

Lima Marines who witnessed the bombing were invited by their commanders to return to their base and meet with counselors, Hillberg said. They declined, some saying the World War II Marines their company traces roots to wouldn’t have left the battle on Iwo Jima.

The following few days are the fuzzy ones.

One day when they were clearing houses, Hillberg suddenly couldn’t go into the next one. He told his team leader, who directed him to take cover nearby. Soon, tears were rolling down from behind his sunglasses.

“I was just bawling,” Hillberg said. “I cried it out … then we just pushed on.”

Although the reunion is canceled, Kreuter’s parents were recently able to host an annual golf tournament that benefits a memorial scholarship fund. It was iffy for a while, especially before the state reversed an order closing golf courses.

Ken Kreuter said they’ve raised more than $125,000 through the tournament that grew out of an annual pancake breakfast in David’s honor. They award $1,000 scholarships to Cincinnati-area students.

His wife, Pat Murray, helps keep up a network of the Marines’ survivors, although Kreuter said they have lost touch with some. Some others also have memorials and benefits in their children’s names, and a traveling tribute exhibit was created more than a decade ago.

“The saddest thing,” Pat said a few days ago, “is no new memories have been created with David. That really hurts.”

Dominguez, a father of two children, has his rituals this time of year. On July 28, he visited the grave of Columbus-area native Cpl. Andre Williams, one of two Lima Marines killed that day in 2005 while clearing houses. As he always does, he left a coin for Williams.

On Aug. 3, he usually meets up with other survivors and family members, winding up at a Waffle House to trade stories and memories. Because of pandemic restrictions and concerns, he’s not sure how many people will participate this year.

“You celebrate the time you had with them,” Dominguez said of the slain Marines. “You tell your kids about it. You think about the choices you have, choices to live a life that is worthy of their sacrifice.”


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Chicago : commemorate 75 years of the Nagasaki bombing NBC Chicago

TOKYO – The Japanese city of Nagasaki on Sunday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the US nuclear attack on the town, as the mayor and dwindling survivors urged world leaders, including the head of his government, to do more to ban the nuclear weapons.

At 11:02 a.m., the moment the B-29 Bockscar bomber dropped a 4.5-ton (10,000-pound) plutonium bomb, survivors and other participants in the event rose to their feet for a minute’s silence in memory of the more than 70,000 dead.

The August 9, 1945 attack came three days after the United States dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the world’s first nuclear attack, which killed 140,000 people. On August 15, Japan’s surrender ended World War II.

At the rally in the Nagasaki Peace Park, reduced by the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor, Tomihisa Taue, read a peace declaration in which he expressed concern that the nuclear states have withdrawn from disarmament efforts in the last years.

Instead, he said, they are upgrading and downsizing nuclear weapons to facilitate their use. Taue singled out the United States and Russia for increasing risk by distancing themselves from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

“As a result, the threat of nuclear weapons being used is becoming more and more real,” Taue said. Noting that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force 50 years ago, Taue urged Washington and Moscow to find a “viable path” toward nuclear disarmament in the treaty revision process next year.

Authorities in Japan want to know where the blast occurred and what was the level of hydrogen generated.

“The true horror of nuclear weapons has not yet been adequately transmitted to the world as a whole” despite the efforts of the hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, he noted.

He also urged the government and lawmakers in Japan to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, established in 2017, in a hurry.

After participating in the ceremony, the Prime Minister of Japan. Shinzo Abe criticized the treaty for being unrealistic. None of the nuclear states has joined and does not have majority support even among non-nuclear states, he said.

“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted without taking into account the reality of the harsh national security environment,” Abe told a news conference. “I must say that the treaty differs from Japan’s position and strategy” even though they both share the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons, he said.

Abe has repeatedly refused to sign the text and reiterated that Japan does not want to choose a side, but to serve as a bridge between states with nuclear weapons and those that do not have them, to promote dialogue and reach a ban. Survivors and peace groups say that in practice, Japan is siding with the United States and other nuclear states.

Although Tokyo renounces owning, producing or storing nuclear weapons, as an ally of the United States it is home to 50,000 American troops and is protected by American nuclear weapons. The security agreements signed after World War II make it difficult for Japan to sign the treaty while strengthening its armed forces in the face of threats from North Korea and China, among others.

The act to commemorate the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima 75 years ago served this Thursday to insist on the need for the Government of Japan, the only country that has suffered an atomic attack, to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons approved ago three years within the UN.

A group of survivors have expressed a growing sense of urgency to tell their stories in hopes of reaching out to younger generations to continue their efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

“We survivors don’t have much time left,” said Shigemi Fukabori, 89. When Nagasaki was bombed, he was a 14-year-old student mobilized to work in a shipyard.

“I am determined to continue telling my story so that Nagasaki is the last place on Earth to suffer an atomic attack,” he said.

Fukabori, who lost four brothers almost instantly, said he would never forget the piles of charred bodies, the wrecked trams and the wounded desperately crying out for help and water as he ran back home from Urakami Cathedral, which also it was almost destroyed. “We don’t want anyone else to go through this,” he said.

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