Condolences from Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:25
Iraqi people, who experience the terror of frequent bombings in their homeland, are not numb to the pain suffered after the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this month.
A Bowling Green man stationed in Baghdad told of Iraqis' compassion in a recent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe.
Major Chuck Hansen, an Air Force officer at the U.S. Embassy, serves as an adviser to five Iraqi colonels. When Hansen saw the colonels the morning after the marathon, they shared their concern.
"The first thing they did was express their sincere shock, sadness and indignation about Monday's attack at the Boston Marathon," Hansen wrote.
When the Iraqis learned that a good friend of Hansen's was running the race, they became even more upset - even though she was miles from the finish line when the bombs exploded.
"These guys come from a country that has been at war for 10 years, where bombs go off in people's houses, cars, or on the streets almost every day," Hansen wrote. "They live in fear of being murdered simply because they have taken a stand to build a nation that offers their children a future."
Yet, they had concern for Americans impacted by the Boston bombings.
"After all of that, they still found compassion for the people of a faraway city they've never visited in a country their nation has fought two wars against," Hansen wrote. "It brought tears to my eyes."
The letter to the editor then told of the Iraqis' hopes for Boston's recovery.
"I am passing along their prayer for the people of Boston, along with their hope that your great city will rise above this sad day. If my Iraqi brothers can find hope to keep going, I know that Boston will, too," he wrote.
Hansen is the son of Vern and Becky Hansen, of Bowling Green. He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1993, then went on to instruct in BGSU's Air Force ROTC program from 2001 to 2004.
Becky Hansen said they are extremely proud of their son and the work he is doing in Iraq.
"We've always been proud of him," she said last week.
His mother said Hansen has been in Iraq since October. The compassion shown in the letter and his relationship with his Iraqi colleagues is typical of her son.
"It's typical Chuck. He's an excellent writer," she said.
Hansen is assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation, Iraq, which supports the development of a modern, accountable and professional Iraqi military capable of defending the nation and its borders.
"My job is to facilitate Iraqi participation in multi-national military exercises, helping them to develop their working relationship with the United States and other nations and contribute to the peace and security of the region," he said.
Hansen said the Boston bombings made the news in Iraq, despite all the ongoing problems with violence in the region.
"I was in a meeting at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense office last week, and the Iraqi general who was chairing the meeting mentioned some of the latest developments in the Boston case that he's seen in the news, so I know they're following it," he said.
This is Hansen's second tour as an adviser in Iraq. While he was touched by the Iraqi sympathy, he was not surprised by it. "I've come to know the Iraqis I've worked with as very compassionate people. I've seen them cry in response to a really horrific attack on a church in 2010. I am continually in awe of their capacity to keep caring in spite of all the hardships they've endured."
Hansen has been an Air Force officer for 20 years, with more than four years serving in other countries. Despite differences in culture, religion and language, Hansen said he is frequently reminded that "people are people. Most of us feel compassion for each other, and when something like this happens, we naturally reach out to try to comfort those who are hurting. No matter how many times I see it happen, though, it still really moves me."
Though Becky Hansen is accustomed to having her loved ones serving in dangerous missions - her husband served a year in Vietnam - she can't help but be concerned for her son.
"Of course, you always worry," she said.
Chuck Hansen, who is married and has two sons, will be retiring at the end of September.

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