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Leader talks about hunt for Saddam
Ret. Lt. Col. speaks at BGC Steak and Burger Dinner
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    Lieutenant Col. Steve Russell, Ret., held his audience captive Thursday as he spoke about his U.S. Army unit's determined hunt for Saddam Hussein.
    Russell was featured speaker at the Fourth Annual Steak and Burger Dinner, hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County.
    He used his tale of Hussein's capture to emphasize values, such as determination and trusting God, that are important parts of the club's success.
    Before he spoke about the historic and dramatic hunt that ended in Hussein's capture, Russell spoke about the Boys and Girls Club and said " If you don't get fired up by going in  there (the club), you're just dead."
    He said he was humbled by the entire ordeal of searching for Hussein, and by traveling and speaking about the time. Russell talked about how he was inspired by neighbors who shared military tales, and how he always played with toy soldiers and G. I. Joe figures as  a child.
    When he graduated from college, Russell ended up spending 21 years in the military, nine of those years overseas.
    In speaking, he referred to several Bible passages about soldiers, and how faith helped him in the mission to find the evasive Hussein.
    "We had six months of very hard work in tracking down Saddam ... (with a plan) put together by regular soldiers.
    Russell talked about tracking the families — at least five — that served as Hussein's bodyguards — and  then as the raids went on, closing in on personal bodyguards who were closer to the man. Tips came in about hiding placed, and at least once they narrowly missed Hussein, who left behind personal items such as $2 million worth of his wife's jewelry, personal ID and information, family photos — and $8.5 million in U.S. currency.
    He said he told his men "We will be the hunters; we will not be the hunted" although Hussein's people fought back in "unconventional ways."
    He spoke of a message he received in an e-mail about God knowing where Hussein was, and how God would lead him to Hussein.
    His trust in God helped him stay strong. "I lead my soldiers because of my faith in Christ," he said.
    Russell spoke about the first and second man caught during the search for Hussein — the second was a very close personal aid to Hussein. This stirred up intense media interest as well as ramped up attacks from the enemy — street fights and roadside bombs — but the pursuit never wavered.
    One of the "most controversial" moves Russell's unit made was to surround Saddam Hussein's mansion and the town with a barbed wire fence. No one could get in or out without inspection and identification, which hampered the tip-offs and communication between many of Hussein's people, he said.
    "There were a lot of bad folks, Saddam's cronies," in there, he said. "The impact was tremendous and we began to disrupt the enemy's plans."
    After being inspired by the e-mail message that "God knows where Saddam is," the unit continued and had yet another successful raid, capturing Hussein's right-hand man. Dec. 13, that man helped them find Hussein in a small farm building, hiding underneath a floor mat in a hole.
    Russell said when Hussein identified himself, someone spoke up and said "President Bush sends his regards." Hussein struggled a bit, but American soldiers "straightened him out," Russell recalled.
    "Dec. 13 (2003) was the proudest day of my life," he said. Things are much more peaceful in Iraq now, and "As I look back, I'm also reminded of the cost, the dark days and the sheer terror. The loss of my soldiers ... I have relived that time every day."
    Russell encouraged listeners to support efforts like the Boys and Girls Club. " Your support creates that connection to children. Encourage them that we are still a land of opportunity. We ... have a responsibility to young America that we must never apologize for who we are.
    We must sacrifice, he said. "Sacrifice doubt. Sacrifice anxiety. Sacrifice cynicism. Sacrifice any notion that will cause us to lose sight and the hope that is America."
    Those in the crowd also hear from Boys and Girls Club members, including Nathaniel Huff, who was recently honored as the B&G Club Youth of the Year.  He told how the club helped him, as a child of a single parent home, become successful.
    Statesboro Herald President Joe McGlamery shared quotes from other club members as he welcomed the group. One child said the Boys and Girls Club was the "funniest place" and "feels like my home." Another said "it helps me improve, be honest and respectful to myself and others."
    "It's where I feel appreciated," said one members. and Dacia Shipman, 11, said "It keeps me out of trouble."
    McGlamery reminded the crowd how children are important. "While children represent only 20 percent of our population, they represent 100 percent of our future," he said.

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