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Family cheers as 'their Marine' leads statue's destruction

From Rose Arce and Dana Garrett
CNN New York Bureau

Chin
Cpl. Edward Chin drapes an American flag on the face of Saddam Hussein's statue before tearing it down.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Cheers erupted Wednesday morning as a Brooklyn family watching television recognized their son and brother as the Marine who played a lead role in toppling a statue of Saddam Hussein in a central square in Baghdad.

The image of Cpl. Edward Chin, 23, of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, was broadcast on TV screens around the world as U.S. troops joined a crowd that was attacking the statue. (Full story)

In central Baghdad's Firdos Square, Chin climbed the outstretched arm of an M88 Tank Recovery Vehicle to fasten a cable around the statue's neck, and while he was there, briefly covered its face with an American flag.

After the M88 pulled the statue down, the crowd placed a pre-Gulf War Iraqi flag on the statue's base.

Iraqis broke the statue into pieces and dragged its head through the streets, while others -- including children -- pounded it with shoes, an act considered a supreme insult in the Arab world.

"I [am] so, so proud, so very proud," said an emotional Nai Koon Chin, the Marine's mother. "He used to play like GI Joe as a little boy. He always dreamed he would be a Marine."

An immigrant from Burma, she said the family left the country seeking "American freedom" in 1980, and she gave birth to Edward a week later.

"We like our children have a good life, good schools. We want American freedom. Now Edward bring American freedom, " she said.

The family's home in the Dyker Heights area of Brooklyn is decorated with pictures of Edward and care packages of chocolates they are preparing to send him. Their living room filled with relatives, neighbors and reporters soon after Edward was seen on television.

His sister Connie told CNN, "I'm just speechless. I can't really put into words what I'm feeling, but I'm just very proud of my brother right now."

Meanwhile, Cpl. Chin told reporters in Baghdad he was happy, but eager to go home.

"I feel satisfaction that it's almost over, that I can go home soon, " he told ITN television. When asked how it felt to be in Baghdad he said it was "kind of crazy" but Marines had gotten a "warm welcome."

As the interview ended, a civilian handed him a bunch of flowers, and the smiling Marine sped away on his tank.


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