War is a life-changing event - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

War is a life-changing event

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August 7, 2003

Mitchell County- P.J. Webb is different than he was eight months ago.

"This is my first time even leaving the country," Webb said.

He's older. He celebrated his 20th birthday in the Iraqi desert. But to his family, the changes are deeper.

"His attitude, the way he talks, his conversation toward you," said his mother Edith. "You can tell a difference in him."

P.J.'s a loader with the 1st Tank Battalion. That means he puts ammunition into the main gun of the tank. He entered Operation Iraqi Freedom not knowing what to expect, and was surprised at what he found.

"There were cars dragging small statues of Saddam all across the road," he said.

He was surprised at how Marines were welcomed.

"There was this one lady jumping up and down, saying something in Arabic, I don't know what she was saying, but she was almost crying."

And surprised at how war changed him and his fellow Marines.

"The whole atmosphere around our battalion, around our unit, is a lot stronger than we were, than it was before we left."

P.J.'s happy his duty is over, but he's glad to have helped.

"Now they don't have to be forced into believing something or doing something they don't want to do. Even though, for him, it was just a job.

"I was just ready to get it over with, get done what we were sent over there to do."

But to others he's a hero, serving our country and making history.

posted at 10:30 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com