KATTERBACH, Germany — Adam Kokesh never thought he’d join an anti-war group, but combat changed that.

The Marine sergeant deployed to Iraq with a civil affairs team in 2004 and 2005 hoping to serve his country and make Iraq a better place.

“I got there and it was a different story,” the 25-year-old Californian said. “It was clear this wasn’t effective. ... I didn’t question it too much, and I regret that.

“I feel I was betrayed.”

Kokesh is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Along with a few other Iraq vets and German peace activists opposed to Army expansion at the Ansbach garrison, Kokesh demonstrated outside Katterbach Army Airfield on Wednesday night.

As passing active-duty soldiers continued to prepare for a 15-month deployment with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Kokesh and the other vets stood outside the base with a microphone, imploring soldiers to think about the reasoning behind the war.

Roughly 25 people participated in Wednesday night’s demonstration, while fewer took part in a rally during the brigade’s deployment ceremony Thursday morning. Base leadership closed the main gates to the bases during Thursday’s event.

As soldiers and family members walked or drove by Wednesday night’s demonstration, some rolled their eyes or smiled. Others looked angry. None would comment about the protest going on.

One man yelled “How about I come out and beat your ass?” as Darnell Summers, a Vietnam veteran, spoke out against the war.

“Look in the mirror and ask yourself, why?” Summers said. “The Iraqi people don’t want you there. Seventy percent of the American public doesn’t want you there. They want you home with your families.”

The war is illegal and unlawful, he said.

“You will be defeated,” Summers said. “Not because I say so, but because the situation dictates that. You’re moving into an impossible situation.”

Col. Timothy J. Edens, who commands the 12th CAB, said in an e-mail Thursday that he had no problem with the veterans or German protesters exercising their free-speech rights, as long as it didn’t interfere with active-duty operations.

“Although I may not personally agree with our veterans taking part in these activities, they are breaking no laws that I am aware,” Edens wrote. “Like the Germans, [they] are exercising their freedom to express an opinion.”

Kokesh said before addressing the crowd that he had felt like he needed to be a part of the movement.

“I’m not going to be a [expletive] hippie, but I had to be a member of this organization,” he said. “I have a moral imperative to do this work. You have a unique power to speak out as a vet.”

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