Small Town Pays Big Price In Iraq

If you somehow found your way to an out-of-the-way town amidst the cornfields of central Illinois, you might think the only thing remarkable about it was its name, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.

But what has put Paris on the map in bold face is the tremendous price it has paid half a world away: five dead and 24 wounded.

"The impact was devastation, the impact was loss, or sorrow," says Mayor Craig Smith

Just about the whole town turned out in December 2003 when Paris' National Guard Unit, the 1544th, shipped out. Back then folks there — like many Americans — believed this war would be over quickly. In, out, and home.

"Come home? Oh yeah. I don't know who wouldn't want to come home," Sgt. Shawna Morrison, with the 1544th Transportation Company, said back then.

But 26-year old Shawna Morrison didn't make it home Neither did 23-year-old Jeremy Ridlen. Or 23-year-old Charles Lamb. Or 21-year-old Jessica Cawvey, who left behind a little girl. Or 44-year-old Ivory Phipps, a father of three who died the very day he arrived in Iraq.

In the town that's always worn its patriotism with pride, more and more people are asking questions. Morrison's father is one of them.

"A lot of people think it's about time to end the nonsense and bring our troops home, but I mean, we're stuck," says Rick Morrison.

Aaron Wernz nearly died in the same mortar attack that killed Morrison. Although, he's out of the Guard now and back on his family farm, he still believes the war in Iraq can and must be won.

"It's not working. That doesn't mean it won't work. That doesn't mean it can't work. Democracy never comes easy. Our own didn't," Wernz says.

No one is praying harder for it to work than brokenhearted parents like Rick and Cindy Morrison.

"Losing her that far away" has been the hardest part, Shawna's mother says. "She was always saying, 'Mom, I'm coming home.' And she died so far away."

It's taken a toll on the city. "It's not a big city where you don't know whose kid is over there. We feel it day to day, whether our kids are over there or not. We know somebody else's child is over there, and we want to know what's going on and when is it going to be over," says Smith.

Those are key questions in a small town where a war 6,000 miles away has hit too close to home.

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