Many relieved with news of military operations ending in IraqThousands of troops from our area served in that 7 and a half year war, many of them still over seas. What do those back home feel about tonight's news? Many we spoke with tonight are relieved that military operations are officially over in Iraq and say it has been a long time coming.
“I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over.”
That from President Barack Obama tonight in a primetime address. He told the nation the U.S. is officially ending its combat role in Iraq, a final turning point in one of the country's longest wars. He says "Iraq's future is now up to Iraqis." Nearly 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq, 44-hundred died, and 10's of thousands were wounded.
“At every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander in Chief I am incredibly proud of their service and like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice.”
Thousands of troops from our area served in that 7 and a half year war, many of them still over seas. What do those back home feel about tonight's news? Many we spoke with tonight are relieved that military operations are officially over in Iraq and say it has been a long time coming.
It’s a big day, no doubt, but soldiers who experienced Iraq first hand say even though the our fighting is over. The county has a long way to go.
It’s been about three years since sergeant Hickory Smith last set foot on Iraqi soil. He served for 16 months in Iraq with the 34th Infantry division, part of the 2007 military surge.
Hickory Smith: "It’s cool to see how things are transitioning and what changes have happened in all these years"
Smith says it's those changes that made today possible. Sitting next to Smith is Chris Deery. They served in Iraq together. He says even with this milestone, for the people of Iraq, change won’t come easy.
Chris Deery: "its going to be difficult for them, um, like you said, all they've known is the fear element and this is all new to them, its a new change, but I think they're ready"
On the street, many say they're happy military operations are over, but remain unsure why our troops ever spent 7 years fighting there.
Richard Greene: "Getting our kids out of there as soon as possible is the very best thing that we could do"
One statistic that remains crystal clear to all. More than 4,400 American soldiers lost their lives in a war that is still surrounded in controversy.
Chris Deery: "Those people put their life on the line just like we both did, and its unfortunate that they didn't get to return home and finish and carryout their life that they dreamed about"
The military explains their role in Iraq now as simply, assist, advice, and train. Both Deery and Smith say its possible they could go back to Iraq and train military and police officials to continue to remain self reliant.