An active solider raising his family in the desert watched President Barack Obama’s speech on the military draw down in Iraq Tuesday from on his couch in Bermuda Dunes.
Captain Dennis Sadorra served multiple tours in Iraq, and he said all of the hard work he and his fellow soldiers put into Operation Iraqi Freedom will pay for generations.
Sadorra’s eyes were glued to the television as he paid very close attention to every word President Obama said.
About nine years ago, he transferred out of the U.S. Air Force to join the Army following the attacks on Sept. 11.
He wanted to serve in Iraq, and he did twice.
Video that Sadorra captured while in Iraq showed U.S. soldiers detonating confiscated weapons and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, before they could cause any harm to people passing by.
The plume of dirt and smoke could be seen 10 miles away, he said.
“My first deployment was in Balad, and they called the place ‘mortaritaville,” said Sadorra. “We were constantly being rocketed and fired on.”
But Sadorra said the streets were safer when he returned to Iraq for the second and last time in 2008.
“You could see that there was less activity on the insurgent side,” he explained. “I’d go through intel reports and you could see that there wasn’t as much activity.”
Sadorra watched every minute of Obama’s speech that marked the end of U.S. combat missions in Iraq.
The president said ending the war is not only in Iraq’s interest, but also America’s.
Sadorra said he is proud of the work he and his fellow soldiers did there.
“You could see there’s a real appreciation there,” he said. “Whether it was giving them supplies, or teaching them, or instructing them on how to get their country back. I’m real proud of what’s happened.”
Sadorra’s first tour spanned 11 months in 2005, where he served as an ordinance officer.
He then returned to Iraq in 2008 for seven months — his final tour.
He shared with News Channel 3 a photo of he and Gen. David Petraeus — the commanding general in Afghanistan.
“He was also a 101st Airborne commander at one time,” said Sadorra. “So, when he saw my combat patch from my first mission, right away, he was like, ‘Huah, 101st!’ So, yeah, great, great general.”
Sadorra also comes from a military family.
His father served in Vietnam. Both grandfathers served in World War II, and his sister recently became a lieutenant for the U.S. Air Force.
“I don’t expect my two sons to go to war, but I will teach them the same values,” he said. “If it’s in their path to go to war and it’s their choice, so be it. But, either way, I’ll be proud of them.”
Sadorra is also a school counselor at Hoover Elementary School in Indio.
Tuesday was his first day back in class.
He is still active in the Army, but he is in the process of retiring.