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Iraqi soldiers donate $1,000 for wildfire aid

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. colonel: "In the months I've been here, I have never been so moved"
  • Money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers
  • Many of Marines at the military camp are from Camp Pendleton, California
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From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau
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(CNN) -- The Iraqi leadership at a military camp east of Baghdad gave the U.S. military a $1,000 check last week to aid victims of California's wildfires, the U.S. military said.

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U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, center left, receives the check from the Iraqi army.

"In the months I've been here, I have never been so moved," Army Col. Darel Maxfield, the senior U.S. military official at Camp Besmaya, said in an e-mail.

The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers at Besmaya.

Many of the Marines at that camp are from Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine Corps base about 38 miles north of downtown San Diego, California, he said.

Many of the worst fires have been in San Diego County, including the Witch and Harris fires.

Maxfield said the Iraqi leadership at the camp called a meeting Thursday evening to gather Iraqi soldiers and U.S.-led coalition members. The Iraqi commander there gave a short speech, thanking all his "American brothers" for their role in Iraq.

He then presented a sealed envelope with the check, Maxfield said.

"I'm honored to participate by sending you a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego city to lowering their suffering from the wildfire," the Iraqi colonel told them. "That's for the feeling of being brothers and friends and for the great connections together."

Maxfield said the Iraqi leaders were "clearly moved" and were "trying as best they could to convey their genuine concern" for the people in San Diego.

The U.S. military said it isn't the first time the Iraqi commander collected money for Americans coping with natural disasters. When Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, the Iraqi reportedly took up $680 from his men to aid victims. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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