Woman back from helping rebuild Iraq speaks out - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Woman back from helping rebuild Iraq speaks out

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October 31, 2004

Albany -- A 62 year-old grandmother who spent more than 7 months in Iraq helping to rebuild the war torn country is back home.

Now she's on a crusade to educated Americans about the realities of the war in Iraq and it's importance. Sunday she stopped in at an Albany church.

10 months ago 62-year-old retired, Florida Department of Labor worker, Duane Underwood got a call from the Pentagon that would change her life.

"They said that the US Department of Labor had recommended that I be apart of a 4 member team to help Ambassador Paul Brimmer rebuild the government specifically the department of labor," say Underwood.

And after getting over the shock of the request, the wife and grandmother prayed and later decided if she didn't go to Iraq, she'd regret it. Her family was supportive but concerned.

"They were very afraid because of watching the news, " says Underwood.

Underwood arrived in Baghdad during a time of great instability.

As a civilian worker, she was assigned a gas mask and combat boots and was given two weeks weapons training. Each day she worked, in a war zone, to rebuild the country's labor ministry.

"My life was in danger almost everyday. Rockets were shot into the green zone almost daily," says Underwood.

Now after 7 months in Iraq, Underwood is back home and speaking at churches and with other groups.

She talks about the dangers of war, supporting the troops and how grateful the majority of the Iraqi people are that the US is there.

"We definitely should be there. These people are so appreciative and deserve to live ," says Underwood.

It's a message she hopes will give this audience a first hand feel of the war in Iraq as they safely watch it unfold on their televisions.

Underwood says she may consider going back to Iraq in the future but for now, she wants to spend time with her family.

posted at 5:55PM by scott.hunter@walb.com