More than seven years after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, US combat troops are finally leaving for home.
August 19, 2010: A line of heavily armored American military vehicles, their headlights twinkling in the predawn desert, lumbered past the barbed wire and metal gates marking the border between Iraq and Kuwait early Thursday and rolled into history.
For the troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism but lightened by the whoops and cheers of soldiers one step closer to going home. Seven years and five months after the US-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama's August 31 deadline for ending US combat operations there.
When 18-year-old Spc. Luke Dill first rolled into Iraq as part of the US invasion, his Humvee was so vulnerable to bombs that the troops lined its floor with flak jackets.
Now 25 and a staff sergeant after two tours of duty, he rode out of Iraq this week in a Stryker, an eight-wheeled behemoth encrusted with armor and add-ons to ward off grenades and other projectiles.
"It's something I'm going to be proud of for the rest of my life — the fact that I came in on the initial push and now I'm leaving with the last of the combat units," he said.
Scatterings of troops still await departure, and some 50,000 will stay another year in what is designated as a noncombat role. They will carry weapons to defend themselves and accompany Iraqi troops on missions (but only if asked). Special forces will continue to help Iraqis hunt for terrorists. [source: jpost]