- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The Iraqi woman had been in hiding with her children since her husband was pulled from his truck and shot in front of one of his sons.

This weekend they began a new life, brought to the United States with help from soldiers who had befriended the man and were tormented by the idea that their relationship contributed to his death.

The woman and her seven children arrived in Fargo on two flights Friday and early Saturday. One of the boys greeted waiting North Dakota National Guard soldiers with a cheery “Hi, guys.”

The children were presented with gifts, including toys and a soccer ball.

Sgt. 1st Class Shayne Beckert and a fellow guardsman, Capt. Grant Wilz, worked for months to bring the family to the United States, appealing for help and contacting Rep. Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota Democrat, who helped arrange the trip.

Mr. Pomeroy, who met the family earlier this month during a trip to Iraq, described them as “bright and strong and wonderful,” and said their resourcefulness would help them adjust to life in the United States.

Mr. Pomeroy said the mother described the journey as “her birthday … the beginning of a new life.”

“This isn’t the end of the story. This is the beginning of the story,” Mr. Pomeroy said. “They don’t know English. They have never seen winter.”

Officials had planned to bring the family out of Iraq while the woman was pregnant with her seventh child, but the child was born six weeks early. The woman was waiting in line to get a passport for the newborn when her 2-year-old daughter was hit by bomb shrapnel and suffered severe injuries to her right eye.

Their names are not being released because of potential danger to their relatives in Iraq.

Capt. Wilz said the father helped the soldiers, giving them information about hidden bombs, insurgent activity and general goings-on.

In January, insurgents pulled him from his truck and shot him dozens of times in front of one of his sons, the soldiers said.

Capt. Wilz and Sgt. Beckert, both of Bismarck, have no doubt that the man’s cooperation with U.S. forces spurred the killing, pointing to several previous attempts on his life.

Mr. Pomeroy praised the soldiers for persisting when they could have forgotten the family as one of the casualties of war.

“They might have come back and not looked back,” he said.

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