Jay Ottolini was glad to hear U.S. troops were pulling out of Iraq.
The retired Santa Rosa truck driver, whose younger brother Mike was killed by a roadside bomb in 2004, said the U.S. never should have been there in the first place.
“It's been hard,” said Ottolini, who has a tattoo tribute to his brother on his left shoulder. “I hope they bring them all back.”
Military families and elected officials across the North Coast expressed relief at President Obama's announcement Friday that all troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by year's end.
Many with a politically liberal point of view had the same thought — that the departure was long overdue, especially since the conflict was declared over last year.
Others said they hoped the move would signal the end of involvement in Afghanistan.
A combined 15 North Coast service members have died in the two countries since 2002.
“It's good news for anyone,” said Herb Williams of Santa Rosa, whose son Jesse was killed in Iraq in 2007. “I'm glad to see Obama kept his word.”
Linda Kynoch, the mother of Army Cpl. Joshua Kynoch, killed in Iraq in 2005, said she too was happy about the pullout.
Her 23-year-old son died about six months after the birth of his now 6-year-old daughter, also by a roadside bomb.
“I just wish it was over before he died,” Kynoch said. “I'm happy it's ending but I'm sad it took so long.”
Still others worried about Middle East stability and the growing influence of Iran.
Steve Countouriotis, a Petaluma resident and former Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wondered if nationalist sentiment would dominate old religious loyalties.
“I think the military is capable of defending the country against threats,” he said. “The government is going to need some help. It is still somewhat weak.”