Soldiers First Veteran's Day in Uniform

November 10, 2003--Posted at 7:45 p.m.

Paragould, AR-- 21 year old Lenzie Mangrum had been stateside from Iraq for less than 48 hours, yet he knew had to be at today's Veteran's ceremony in Paragould and he brought his family along.

"We just grabbed each other and hugged each other," said his mom Debbie Mangrum. "I'm proud to see him and proud of what he's doing."

This was Army Specialist Mangrum's first Veteran's Day in uniform and he said, "It gives me a sense of pride knowing that Americans still support us and the few that don't don't understand probably never will."

Mangrum is in the Army's 864th Engineers Battalion, a rapid runway repair detail in Balad, Iraq. He' home for two weeks, for the first time in two years. "If this is a dream don't wake me up, let me sleep," said Mangrum.

That's because Mangrum knows the reality of war, watching a soldier shoot a little girl hiding a half dozen grenades. "Anyone that would be low down dirty enough to use women and children, it makes me sick, honestly it makes me sick," said Mangrum.

He said never really knowing where that "sick" enemy is, he knows death could come at any moment. "It's always there, it's always in the back of your mind, but you just push on to your mission, and wait for that call that you're going home."

And Specialist Mangrum says he is convinced the U.S. will finish the job in Iraq, but he believes it will be a very, very long time before our soldiers are completely out of Iraq.

Mangrum said, "One day they will know what it's like to be free, if not those there now, then their children or their children's children will know what it's like to be free."