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Last U.S. troops leave Iraq

Today, at a few minutes before 8 AM local time,  the metal gate on the road (once better known as Main Supply Route Tampa) that connects Iraq with Kuwait closed behind the last of 110 heavily armored trucks and MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles carrying about 500 soldiers. The withdrawal was the end of the largest troop reduction for the U.S. since Vietnam.

Although I have never shied away from politics, either state or national, in this blog, it is not my intention to discuss them tonight. As I sit here on this cool, quiet California night listening to a local FM station that plays only Christmas music this time of year, I am thinking only of the returning service members and their families, and what the end of this war, after almost nine years, means to those folks.

Of course, the Iraq War officially ended a few days ago, on the birthdays of a couple of friends of mine. Somehow, I always take the advice of Yogi Berra that, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!

At the height of the war, the U.S. had over 239,000 men and women in uniform in over 500 bases, plus an additional 135,000 contractors, in Iraq. And, as CNN notes:

“The United States will still maintain a presence in Iraq: hundreds of nonmilitary personnel, including 1,700 diplomats, law enforcement officers, and economic, agricultural and other experts, according to the State Department. In addition, 5,000 security contractors will protect Americans and another 4,500 contractors will serve in other roles.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 4,487 service members were killed in the war. Over 300,000 were wounded. Over 1.5 million Americans served their country in the war.

The independent public database, Iraqi Body Count, has compiled reports on more than 150,000 Iraqi dead between the invasion in 2003 and October 2010, and 4 of 5 Iraqi dead were civilians.

Undeserving of being included with the human sacrifices of the previous two paragraphs, the war also cost American taxpayers more than $800 billion.

We civilian Americans probably all feel that our “thank-you” to our folks in uniform is inadequate; I know that I do. Take care of yourselves as you prepare for redeployment or integration into American society, at a particularly turbulent time.

But for now, enjoy a peaceful reunion with your families and friends…and know that Americans everywhere are grateful for your, and for other service members’, sacrifice.

-Bill at

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