METAIRIE, La. - Michael Bailey is a proud U.S. Navy veteran. In 2003, the Metairie native served as a combat cargo specialist, bringing equipment to the front lines in Iraq.
He says he’ll never forget the haunting scenes.
“A lot of dead bodies, in the past I've seen during combat, people getting injured, people shot,” said Bailey.
Bailey's 14-year Navy career ended after his tour in Iraq. He was medically discharged, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and other medical issues.
More than a decade later, it's disappointing for him to see parts of Northern Iraq fall to Sunni militants, especially since he served in one of the fallen cities.
“We worked so hard to get that set up, make the people happy and get them on their feet,” said Bailey. “And to see it fall to the militants, it was heartbreaking.”
Heartbreaking, Bailey said, but not surprising.
“We were pulled out way too early, we didn't train the Iraqi army long enough to get them stabilized and trained,” he said.
President Barack Obama stands ready to send 300 military advisors to Iraq. He said there will be “targeted and precise military action” if needed, but U.S. forces will not return to fight. Bailey warns against possible air strikes.
“A bomb does not determine what is a militant and what is a mother and a child, and that can backfire on this administration,” said Bailey.
Instead, Bailey hopes for more boots on the ground, either Iraqi or American. He believes that's the only way to bring stability back to a country where 4,500 U.S troops made the ultimate sacrifice before American military forces pulled out in 2011.
Despite the renewed turmoil, Bailey said his time in Iraq was not in vain.
“It was for a good cause. I saw the smile on children's faces when we were there,” said Bailey. “We supplied them with basic necessities, food and water, of course. We ended up building their infrastructure.”