NEW YORK – The Marine corporal who was seen around the world as he scaled a 40-foot statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and covered the face with an American flag called the event "a pretty crazy experience."
"I was just trying my best to get the chain around his neck and put the flag on his head," Cpl. Edward Chin, 23, said Thursday on ABC-TV's Good Morning America.
Chin said he had second thoughts about what message the use of the flag might send the Iraqi people. Some said later it suggested U.S. occupation.
"At the moment, I was just doing what I was told to do by my commanding officer," Chin said. "... I had to get the job done just like we've been doing out here in Iraq."
Chin was quickly ordered to take the U.S. flag down and replace it with an Iraqi flag. Moments later, the towering bronze statue was pulled down, and cheering Iraqis tore it to pieces.
"It was a pretty crazy experience watching the whole crowd," Chin said.
In New York, Chin's family -- who hadn't seen him since Christmas -- watched the events unfold on television.
"I thought, 'Oh, my son, you are making history, you are part of the Iraqis' liberation,"' said his father, Stanley Chin.
His fiancee, Anne Fu, said she knew Chin meant no disrespect when he put up the American flag.
"He wanted to show the Iraqi people that they were free, that they were liberated, that the U.S. was there to help them and that Saddam is over," she said.
Chin and his family are ethnic Chinese from Myanmar, formerly Burma. They moved to the United States when Chin was 1 week old and live in Brooklyn. Chin joined the Marines in 1999 and is stationed at the Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
"I'm very proud of him," sister Connie Chin told WWOR-TV. "Here's a 23-year-old doing all these amazing things and representing America and representing it well, I think."