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Iraq Transition

Dad: Marine felt mission 'a bit fruitless'

Schroeder was one of 21 Marines killed in Iraq; 13 from Ohio



• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide



(CNN) -- The father of one of the Marines killed this week in Iraq said his son felt the U.S. mission was "a bit fruitless," because insurgents always returned after the military flushed them out.

"Every operation would be a week or two out in the field at some loss of life or at least wounded," said Paul Schroeder, father of 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, who died Wednesday.

"And then they would leave, and then the insurgents would come back. And, obviously, they were back in Haditha, which was supposedly cleared out in Operation Newmarket in early June.

"The insurgents were back in Haditha yesterday. And his vehicle, unfortunately, hit -- struck a roadside bomb," the father told CNN Thursday from Ohio.

"So his comment to us about it was becoming less and less worthwhile, I think -- I took to mean that he was seeing that this was a bit fruitless."

Fourteen Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed Wednesday when a bomb struck their amphibious assault vehicle in northwest Iraq, south of Haditha, the military said. (Full story)

At least eight were from the Marine Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Brook Park, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The battalion was activated in January and went to Iraq in March.

It also has companies in Columbus and Akron, Ohio; Moundsville, West Virginia; and Buffalo, New York. The Pentagon has not yet identified one of the Marines. (Profiles)

It has been a devastating week for Marines from Ohio. Since Monday, 21 Marines have been killed in combat in and around Haditha, 13 of them assigned to units in that Midwest state. (Full story)

Schroeder's mother, Rosemary Palmer, said her son liked the Iraqis, calling them "so kind and so polite," and felt bad when he had to search their possessions in anti-terror missions.

"But as the time went on, he started saying, 'You know, look, we're just redoing.' And he did mention that the closer it came to the time to go home, the less he felt that it was worth what they were doing."

'Don't worry, Dad'

The father of Lance Cpl. Brian Montgomery, 26, of Willoughby, Ohio, said his son insisted on going to Iraq, even though he had a newborn son.

He said, "I have a job to do for my country," said Paul Montgomery. "He said, 'Don't worry, Dad. I'll be back.'"

Montgomery was one of six Marine snipers killed near Haditha Monday from "enemy small-arms fire" in a gunbattle with insurgents, the Pentagon said. (Marines identified)

Five of the six, including Montgomery, also were with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment.

Montgomery's younger brother, Eric, also is stationed in Iraq, and is coming home for his brother's funeral. The two brothers were in the same unit, but on different missions when the older son was killed.

Their father told CNN that when the Marines came to his door, he thought something had happened to Eric, figuring that if his older son had died, the Marines would notify his son's wife.

"I thought, 'Eric is dead,' and I went to the door, and I was already crying, and I said, 'Eric?' and they said, 'Oh no, no, no, Eric is fine,' and just for a split second, I thought, 'Oh, thank God.'

"You know, 'So what do you guys want?' And then the light bulb came on," he said.

'I'm sorry I'm putting you through this'

Cpl. Jeffrey Boskovitch, 25, of Seven Hills, Ohio, was also killed in the gunbattle Monday with insurgents near Haditha. He was from the same Brook Park unit.

"He spoke of those young men all of the time," his father, Jim Boskovitch, said this week. "He didn't want to rotate out of that group. He wanted to do his time and make absolutely sure that when he came home that they all came home together."

Boskovitch and the others were patrolling on foot outside the city when they came under attack.

Five died in the initial attack, and the body of a sixth -- apparently Boskovitch -- was discovered later a few miles away.

"I would suspect that, knowing my son, that he was probably shot several times, and given up for dead, and probably tried to head back in the direction to his base," the father said.

He described life without his son as "a tremendous void."

Also killed in Boskovitch's company was Sgt. Nathaniel Rock, a 26-year-old from Toronto, Ohio. The part-time police officer had hoped to join full time when he returned from Iraq.

In his last Mother's Day card, he wrote, "I'm sorry I'm putting you through this, but I couldn't sit on the sidelines and watch Marines being hurt on TV."

Lt. Col. Kevin Rush of the Brook Park Reserve Center, who has had to inform families about the deaths, said it has been a heart-wrenching experience this week.

"There really is no preparation for looking into the eyes of a father and a mother and telling them that their son was killed in action," he said Thursday on CNN's "American Morning."

"It's all got to come from the heart. It's got to come directly, like you said, right from the gut," Rush said.

"You just emphasize your own personal feelings towards them. Obviously, you offer your condolences and sympathies, and you've got to understand there's no way you can ease their pain."

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