Over the last few years, I've posted a few dispatches, disguised to protect the author, from a State Department advisor in Iraq. His name is Terry Barnich and he worked for and with some very good friends of mine here in Illinois.
Terry grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods on the far south side of Chicago and worked his way up from the bottom of Illinois politics to several very high level jobs. In 2007 he left an extremely lucrative job to go to Iraq and be the State Department Deputy in charge of the reconstruction efforts, specifically, the Electricity Ministry. It was only to be for a one-year term. Instead, as he saw the positive impact we were having in Iraq, decided to stay for more than two years. He took what he learned from fighting to make Chicago a better place to make Iraq a better place. And he arrived just in time to be a part of the early days of the surge.
After six months on the job, Terry wrote this in 2007 for a guest column in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Our soldiers are eager, competent young men and women waging a military counter-insurgency to douse a bubbling cauldron of hate- inspired fanatics. But there are also those making up the civilian counter-insurgency. We're older and slower, but still eager; assisting the Iraqis to create conditions from which the institutions of a free society will one day spring...
You can listen to an interview with Terry on NPR from last year as he discusses the challenges of providing electricity.
Terry was killed on Memorial Day by an IED along with a soldier and a DoD civilian as they were traveling around Fallujah. Two others were wounded.
Terry's tour was going to be over in a few weeks and he was due to return to Chicago in June.
There are those in the media right now that seek to make use of Terry's death and to tie him to contracts and other items in personal attacks. There is no way to convey the trajedy and loss, but suffice it to say, that Terry died doing a job that he believed in. He died as a hard-working American trying to help a fledgling country. He was a true patriot and a good man. Period.
Godspeed, Terry Barnich.