Utah moms honor sons by traveling to Iraq

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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS -- Three Utah mothers followed in their sons' footsteps and went on a peacekeeping mission to Iraq. All three lost their sons during the most recent conflict in the country, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The women went to the place their sons served in an effort to heal as well as help the women and children of the country.

KSL caught up with two of the Utah moms Tuesday, the day after they returned from their trip.

Iraq is a long way from home for these Gold Star moms. The buildings were run down, the streets were dangerous for women traveling alone and local women still do not have many basic rights.

"It was amazing, humbling. It was very life changing," said Jan Moncur.

She and fellow Gold Star mom Amy Galvez both lost sons in the war: Galvez's son died in Iraq four years ago; Moncur's died in a training accident stateside, but prior to that he served in Iraq.

The two mothers made the trip to the Middle East with the Future Organization. They went to heal and meet Iraqi women who also lost sons.

"They told us their stories, of the loss, some losing eight members of their family -- men, from the time of Saddam who had been executed or disappeared," Galvez said.

Every day the women had a full agenda in Iraq, meeting with officials and visiting women's centers and orphanages.

"There was a girl that begged to come here, just begged to come home with me," Moncur recalls.

During the trip the women were surrounded by eight security personnel at all times. Their trip was front-page news in Iraq and Iran.

They were gone less than two weeks, meeting women and children and assessing the needs of the community.

"They have needs over there that are unbelievable," Moncur said.

"The hospitals lack supplies," Galvez said. "It's government run, and even the most basic medicines they are lacking."

Now that they are home, the two mothers plan to raise money and gather supplies to send back to the women and children they met.

The trip also served another purpose: It brought them closer to their sons, whom they say would be proud.

"I never would have thought four years ago when my son was killed I could have a way to help," Galvez said.

A total of 10 Gold Star moms from across the country went on the trip; three were from Utah. The women say there were times they felt a little uneasy, but they're all very glad they went.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com


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