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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
My war: The US soldier
Staff Sergeant David Richard, from Belfield, North Dakota is guarding the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. Here he describes the experiences of his first war.

I came to this region in September to begin training for this job, and I think it has been the right thing to do.

I consider Saddam Hussein to be an evil person who supports al-Qaeda and I was particularly concerned after September 11 that Saddam might try to get weapons of mass destruction to the US.

Now I think I'd rather deal with that kind of problem before it starts.

And if anyone is going to do the job it should be the United States Army, I mean the US military as a whole.

Right now I am looking forward to going back to my family who I haven't seen for seven months
Staff Sergeant David Richard
I was in the Marines between 1984 and 1988 and I was ranching in North Dakota for five years before I signed up again to join the Army in 1993.

So I missed the first Gulf war to free Kuwait, but I came back for the right one which finished the job.

I suppose my main anxiety coming into this war had been about the use of chemical weapons and the possibility of having to operate in a chemical environment.

I had no fear about fighting the Iraqi army because I knew we were better equipped and better trained than they were and that we would beat them in open combat.

Fierce resistance

We left Kuwait on the morning of 19 March and we drove and drove and drove until we got to al-Najaf. I got my first experience of war there.

What was it like? Well it was very tiring, then you get a large adrenaline rush and you fight, and then you feel very tired again.

It was a real battle and they put up better resistance than we'd expected.

Then we rolled up through the outskirts of Karbala and crossed the Euphrates and took up a blocking position.

We had to finish off the second armoured brigade of the Medina division of the Republican Guard, though most of it was taken care of by air.

On 5 April my unit did the first run into Baghdad.

David Richard's unit was the first to enter Baghdad
It was heavily guarded and we were attacked by a suicide bomb vehicle and RPGs and AK47s and we had to fight all the way in.

After that we seized the Sabres arches and moved towards the position we're holding now, at the museum.

And we took a lot of fire on our way here, I can tell you.

I feel bad about all the looting that happened here at the museum, but we were fighting, and you have to kill the enemy before you can move on to peacekeeping and stabilisation.

We're guarding this place now, but I know that Iraq is sort of the birthplace of civilisation so I hope I can see some of the artefacts before I leave here.

Right now I am looking forward to going back to my family who I haven't seen for seven months.

How will I feel if there is another war?

Well, I am a professional soldier and I'll go where I'm told to go.

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