A small crowd gathered in an intimate, window-side corner inside Bay Books Thursday when Former East County Congressman and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Duncan L. Hunter arrived before his scheduled book signing to meet with readers.
Hunter, author of Victory in Iraq: How America Won, shook hands with everyone and was eager to hear about their backgrounds before he began his story.
One attendee, Mike Graham, a major in the Marines who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said that while his political views aligned with Hunter’s, the book’s message is intriguing and stands out.
“I’ve been there for every phase of the campaign in Iraq. I was deployed and redeployed, helping with the initial invasion on the ground. Then worked in the rebuilding phase and security operations. I can say yes, we still have a long ways to go in Iraq, but our interest was met and we were successful,” Graham said.
Hunter’s interest is not only in highlighting that the U.S. won the war, but he also stressed the importance of representing the 1.3 million Americans who served during the conflict.
The text contains interviews with more than 100 recipients of the U.S. Silver Star, the third highest honor for combat valor.
In writing the book, Hunter, an Army veteran, drew from his military connections from being in Congress for nearly 30 years, four of which he served as the chair of the House Armed Services Committee (2003-2007).
“Why did I write this? Because we did win the war,” Hunter said.
“The worst thing our country can do is not announce that we won. The Obama administration was against the war, so when we won, the administration went silent.”
Hunter, 63, believes most Americans focused on tragedies of the war because of the media. He pointed to the coverage of abuse and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Blackwater USA contractors who were hung on a bridge over the Euphrates River and the capture of Jessica Lynch, the first female POW.
He said while the Iraq War had daily heroes and victories, these events went mostly unnoticed by mainstream media. For example, he described the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004 and the Battle of Basra in 2008.
“The U.S. is a nation-builder … It’s interesting to see that now Iraq is one of the more stable countries in the Middle East. Look at what’s happening in Egypt and other countries,” Hunter said.
Even though Hunter’s book was published in November – following President Barack Obama’s announcement of the end of combat operations in Iraq – the content still resonates for many.
“You need more positive stories and people need to know about the individual sacrifices of the men and women who served our country,” said Mike Ellis, an Army veteran from Ohio.