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STOCKTON — “Tents that once protected entire families from temperatures reaching 115 degrees, deteriorating before their eyes. Young children developing skin diseases and a rash of illnesses from just a lack of simple hygiene. ISIS on one side determined to kill them should they leave their compounds. Death from a simple lack of concern by the rest of the world, should they decide to stay.”

 That’s how retired San Joaquin County Deputy Sheriff Richard Campos described the scene as he saw it first hand in Iraq. Returning to his home in Manteca from his sixth humanitarian mission to the war-torn area, he briefly spoke this week at the general membership meeting of Karl Ross Post 16 of the American Legion in Stockton. A member of the Post, he is a 2003 U. S. Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War. 

 “As you read in the newspapers and watch on television, some of these people chose to beat the odds,” Campos said. “But, then those who did make it to foreign soil, are only to be met by European soldiers beating them back with clubs and dousing them with pepper spray.”

 Campos said in an earlier interview that the plight of these refugees and displaced persons is dire. Making it worse, he said, are nations who have over the years tended to ignore the situation. But he said there is hope now that things are beginning to change. For not only have many in Europe welcomed the displaced persons, but the media also has finally taken notice. In his particular humanitarian efforts, a documentary crew has been following him and recording his work. All of this is to call attention specifically to the needs in the camps.

 Those efforts, in trying to assist these depressed people, is what Campos has lived for and has devoted his life. But unlike the world attention which has only recently been demonstrated, Campos said his concern for the people caught up in the war is not new.

 “For me, it all started six years ago when my best friend, Doug Taylor, lost his son, Mark in the Iraq War,” Campos said. “Mark was a doctor who served as a surgeon with the 82nd Airborne. His father, Doug, was a retired California Highway Patrol commander  and was also a Brigadier General in the California National Guard. He died a year later with what I consider a broken heart. After that, I decided to go back to Iraq, not to fight but to undertake humanitarian efforts. Doug’s widow, Roberta, still lives in Stockton.”

 Campos said what he found in his visits were entire communities, some more than 120,000 strong, of displaced families. And it wasn’t just one or two installations, but many. Each of these were located in various parts of the country.  His concentration, however, was in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, which he said seemed to be in particular need. Few nations, let alone individuals, were helping.

 “I save money throughout the year, roughly $6,000, and go back annually to provide diapers, baby food, feminine products and other basic needs. I realize what I do is just a small part of what the actual needs are. But I feel, at least I’m doing my part.”

 Campos said he recently founded an organization, International Veterans Alliance, which he hopes will help him expand the effort. The website is There is also a trailer out, which concerns the documentary being filmed.