Bountiful Marine Helped Make History in Iraq

Bountiful Marine Helped Make History in Iraq


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Sandra Yi Reporting....Staff Sargeant Ryan Simpson of Bountiful - was in the middle of it all as coalition troops and Iraqis pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein.

When K-D Simpson and his wife watched the developments in Baghdad yesterday, little did they know their Marine son was there -- helping to create history.

K.D. Simpson/Father of Marine in Baghdad: "IT'S DIFFICULT TO PUT INTO WORDS, BUT I'M JUST PROUD AS CAN BE."

Utah marine Ryan Simpson is in Baghdad. His unit arrived yesterday at daybreak -- in time to watch history unfold before them.

The world watched as American Marine Edward Chin draped an American flag over the statue.

Moments later, it would be covered by an Iraqi flag, given to the Iraqi people by Ryan.

K.D. Simpson/Father of Marine in Baghdad: "THE CROWD WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE TO PUT UP, THEY DIDN'T PARTICULARLY WANT TO SEE THAT FLAG THERE AND RYAN HAD PICKED UP AN IRAQI FLAG THE DAY BEFORE AND HE HAD IT IN HIS UNIFORM, SO HE PULLED IT OUT AND GAVE IT TO ONE OF THEM."

Simpons says that flag stayed on the statue until the statue was pulled down by hundreds of Iraqi people. It's an image no one will soon forget. The literal toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.

K.D. Simpson/Father of Marine in Baghdad: "HE TALKED ABOUT HOW WONDERFUL IT WAS TO BE THERE, AND HOW THE LOOK IN THE FACE OF THESE PEOPLE THAT HE WAS WITH, IT SORT OF GALVANIZED HIM. AND TO BE A PART OF THAT WAS SOMETHING HE HAD NOT REALLY EXPECTED."

Ryan told his family all he could in a 10 minute phone call home yesterday afternoon. He had borrowed a British reporter's satellite phone.

Simpson says he had no idea where his son was until yesterday.

It's a relief, he says, to know Ryan is ok. Now that feeling is overshadowed by pride.

K.D. Simpson/Father of Marine in Baghdad: "AFTER TALKING TO HIM, IT BROUGHT ON A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO WHERE HE WAS AND WHAT HE WAS DOING. TO HAVE HIM THERE AT A TIME LIKE THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY THRILLING."

Simpson hopes most of the heavy fighting is over but knows soldiers still face potential dangers. He was saddened to hear a Marine was killed in western Baghdad today.

As for Ryan -- he told his parents he didn't know where he was going next. He said it would be a while though, before he could come home.

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