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BARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) – Hundreds of people turned out Sunday for an Honor Ride and Run in Barrington to support military veterans.
Some of those veterans said they support President Barack Obama’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq by year’s end, but some other people in the crowd said troops need to stay in Iraq.
As CBS 2′s Dorothy Tucker reports, the Run and Ride that took place Sunday morning in Barrington was held to raise money to support veterans – like U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Alberto Velasco, who lost his legs in a car accident after returning home from Iraq.
Velasco served two tours between 2003 and 2005, serving as an engineer.
As a marine who once fought on the front line, Velasco clearly expressed what he thinks about the President’s announcement to bring the troops home by the end of the year.
“I’m just glad that our soldiers are coming home,” said Velasco.
But it’s unclear if he thinks the troops accomplished their mission.
“I am not sure. I mean, if our boss – which is the president of the U.S. – says that we need to come back, then we need to come back,” Velasco said.
“Is the mission ever done?” said U.S. Army Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.
Sgt. Giunta never served in Iraq, but he’s the recipient of the Medal of Honor for the time he served in Afghanistan. He thinks Iraq is a better place because of American troops.
“It is a perfect place? Absolutely not, so it’s easy to say the mission’s not done,” said Giunta. “But we’ve been over there since 2003 and we’re almost looking at 2012 now. So, it’s a good time to bring the troops home.”
Many of those who took part in Sunday’s ride – or who watched on the sidelines – had no direct connections to the military, except Deborah Karas.
Karas has two sons on active duty – one in the Navy, the other in Air Force. She’s among those who disagree with the President’s plan to pull the troops out of Iraq.
“We do have a lot of issues overseas that we need to just never walk away from,” Karas said. “We need to protect what we already have gained. We don’t want to lose any of the turf.”
While everyone may not have been on the same political page, event organizers said they raised thousands of dollars to help two veterans groups: Ride 2 Recovery, which makes special bikes for disabled veterans; and Operation Homefront, which provides counseling services and help to military families.