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May 28, 2004
One of Oroville’s young Heroes. Derek graduated Las Plumas High in 2001 then went into the Army July 11 of that year. His parents are Bill and Trish Holman of Oroville and Mary and Mike Truppa of San Jose. He has a brother Dwight, graduating this year from L.P. His Dad is an Oroville graduate. Derek followed in his father’s footsteps in service to his country; Bill served in Vietnam 1969-1970. Derek’s view of the Iraqi people was that they were friendly to your face but they live in so much fear, you just don’t know how they feel. He say’s 80% of them like us. The minority is the problem and we’re trying to build support. When he left Iraq in February he said “What a great feeling. You just don’t realize what it is like over there.” One building that they lived in was next to an old torture chamber. You could see evidence of torture before the Iraqi quickly cleaned it up.

Derek was in Basic training when the Towers fell in New York. He just couldn’t believe his Drill Sgt. when he told them what had happened. Derek thought a war could come but thought about China (he remembered them forcing down our plane and missile’s over Taiwan). In November 2002 Derek went to Korea, then to Camp Wolf Kuwait in April 2003, which felt like walking into an oven. He was then sent into Iraq and set up camp at one of Saddam’s orchards. His job was to find out where Mortar shells were coming from, that were often fired at their base. In Derek’s words “After three months in Hit (pronounced Heat) I spent three months in Ramadi and saw a lot of action. We had a suicide bomber blow himself up at the gate, with no Americans injured. We did tons of Traffic Control Points searching cars and the Iraqi people practically use their cars for everything. Once we found chickens in a guy’s glove box and two sheep were in the trunk. At night we usually had some close calls with mortar attacks and we’d go out and try to find the rebels. Almost every other day we were shot at in one way for three months and then we were replaced by the 82nd. We then went to the Syrian border and did patrols along the border and worked with the Iraqi Police and searched cars going into the country. We did lots of great work there but on New Years Day we lost a fellow soldier to an accidental discharge and I can say it was the worst hour of my life having witnessed that. For my resolution I told myself that I/m going to leave a lot of problems and issues in Iraq. I left Iraq on Feb. 26, 2004 having been on Fox news and the Geraldo Rivera show during my time there as someone of in the distance manning a machine gun. I can say I can count my blessings though having lived through 20 mortar attacks, 3 rocket propelled grenades, 14 accidental weapons discharges, and several rounds of sniper fire. I won’t disclose to anyone if I’ve killed anyone or not. That’s kinda personal, but I will say I’ve had a lot of opportunity to fire my weapon and perform tasks required of me for the day. I can say that Iraq gave me a lot of insights about life on a very personal level. I am better today, than how I was yesterday, but the war isn’t over and I’ve had friends go to other units and found themselves in Iraq or someone tells me that a loved one is over there. All I can say to anyone going over there is to write often and keep a positive attitude. I would like to also thank those who keep their star in the window, fly their American Flag and support our troops. For loved ones it’s their war too, but in their homes. For those who would like to serve their country I can only give my experience but I can say it was the best think I have ever done in by life. You can send your fan mail to me personally at my e-mail address- Novapain@yahoo.com”

Stu’s notes:
I hope my readers come to our Memorial Services this Monday, May 31st, at 11:00, at the Memorial Park Cemetery on Lincoln Blvd. We want to show that Oroville supports their Veterans. Let’s make it the biggest turnout Oroville has ever had. I also want to welcome our first Grandson, Noah Mackenzie Fishkin in to the world. His proud parents are Paula and Bill Fishkin.