December 10th, 2011
02:22 PM ET

As Iraq war ends, families across U.S. welcome troops home

With virtually all American troops scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of the year, thousands of them are coming home this month – many of them sooner than expected, to the delight of their families.

As of last week, more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers were deployed in Iraq, down from 170,000, and the number was dropping daily. Iraqi security forces, including army and police officers, are to assume full responsibility for the country's security by the end of the year under a deal agreed to by Iraq and the United States.

The withdrawal will bring to an end the war that began in 2003 with the toppling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Only about 150 U.S. troops are expected to remain after the December 31 deadline, to assist in arms sales, a U.S. official told CNN, though a large private security force will protect the thousands of State Department workers and contractors staying behind after the withdrawal deadline.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the troop withdrawal in October, cutting some units’ deployments short. His announcement followed news that negotiations to extend the deadline broke down after Iraq's top political leaders refused to grant U.S. troops legal immunity, opening up the prospect of soldiers being tried in Iraqi courts and being subjected to Iraqi punishment.

The following is a collection of reports from troop homecomings across the country:

Last large group of Lewis-McChord troops returns

The final large group of troops from Washington state’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord returned home from Iraq on Tuesday, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

One hundred seventy troops from the 17th Fires Brigade and 62nd Medical Brigade filed off a plane and into a building for a homecoming ceremony, reported.

One of the 170, Staff Sgt. Michael Welsh, told CNN he had ended his fourth deployment.

“Just proud of what we did, and hopefully we won’t have to do it again,” he said.

Over the course of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq, the base lost 200 soldiers and one airman as a result of combat, disease or accident in Iraq, reported.'

Home and Away: Coalition casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq

iReport assignment: Stories from the Iraq war

Maine ‘Troop Greeters’ welcome final waves of Iraq soldiers

A group that has been greeting troops at a Maine airport since 2003 is doing its part to give the final waves of Iraq soldiers a hearty welcome home.

The Maine Troop Greeters gather at the Bangor International Airport – a transfer stop for some military flights – whenever they hear of an inbound troop flight.

As soldiers leave their plane for a brief layover at the airport, greeters line up to shake their hands and welcome them to U.S. soil.

“It’s our pleasure to welcome them and to make their stay here as comfortable and as friendly as possible,” greeter Clayton Dodge said.

The group operates a lounge where troops can use prepaid cell phones to make calls to family and friends.

“It means a lot that people are supporting us. It shows that we’re doing something right, that somebody actually cares,” Spc. Stasha McDonald said.

A soldier's last day in Iraq

Fort Hood troops, families relieved Iraq deployments over

At a homecoming ceremony for troops early this month at Fort Hood, Texas, service members and relatives were excited not only for the return, but also because of the knowledge that the days of deployments to Iraq were over.

Troops were treated like rock stars, entering the ceremony room through a gate and manufactured smoke.

“Everyone tried to make the speeches very, very short, because the highlight was seeing these troops rush into the arms of their loved ones, hugging, kissing, trying to catch up over what’s been missed over the last 10 months,” CNN’s Chris Lawrence reported.

Maj. Mike Ianucilli said that there is “a sense of peace knowing there’s one less opportunity for us to be separated from our families.”

“We know we still have our operations going on in Afghanistan, and other contingency operations as they come up, but to know that what has consumed so much of our careers recently as a profession, to know that that’s not there looming over us is certainly peace of mind,” he said.

War in Iraq: What CNN reporters, producers will remember

National Guard welcomed home in San Mateo

In San Mateo, California, members of the California National Guard returned from Iraq to warm greetings from loved ones in early December.

“I can’t put it into words,” said Spc. Leonardo Ramirez, with an arm around his wife, Ria. “We’ve been gone for such a long time. Just happy to be back home.”

Texas soldier surprises daughter on field at football game

In early November, Sgt. Luis Cardenas – just home from Iraq - surprised his daughter at a high school football game in San Antonio, after not seeing her for a year. CNN affiliate KSAT reports in the video above.

soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. Andy Q Pants

    More unemployable meat heads? Where do you get off saying this? We go about our lives here in the states comfortably while these people sacrifice so much. While you are sitting here typing this idiotic comment, people are being shelled by the Taliban in a foxhole. I'd hire any of those meat heads over someone like you in a heart beat.

    December 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Oh, I see the trolls are out en force tonight with the Anti-American hate that comes with it.

    May everything you wish upon them, trolls, befall *you* ten times worse!

    Welcome home troops.

    December 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mullah dadulah

      what are all these people going to do for living now?

      December 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      More like phony flag waving chickenhawks who supported this fraud of a "War". It's people like you who hate america, sypporting these "wars". in the next one I hope they send you

      December 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobcat (in a hat)

    What's with these people banasy ? How can anyone not have even a sliver of consience ?

    December 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. s kel

    Thank you troops. Anti U S troops K. M . A .......the first word being Kiss. Bansay, gung hoe I have pics to send u guys of my Christmas in NYC. JIF I ended up at Jrs cheesecake on Grand Central thank u.

    December 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |


    December 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      what mission do we talk here about? oh yea, occupation and disturction. Job is well done!

      December 11, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Frantlin

      A good job. Yes they did what they were told to do but what exactly did we accomplish except thousands of dead and wounded. Thanks alot George Bush and Cheney. You will go down in history as the most ignorant men ever. Greed for Halliburton Cheneys company.

      December 11, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ricardo Picardo

    These men and women risk their lives to protect our country. Although I question the motives of these wars, they deserve our respect. Im sure some of them question the motives also, and want a commander in chief who would honor their service, risking their lives only in the absolute defense of our republic. That is why they donate the most money to Ron Paul. Keep up your good work soldiers, much love. Ron Paul 2012

    December 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Big Game James

    Welcome home. 82nd airbone and the 101st especially. Fayettenam stock the beer and hide your daughters!!

    December 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gonzo 108

    Did we win the war.

    December 10, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frantlin

      But just what did we win? Does anyone know what the prize was? Well for sure GWB got revenge for someone trying to kill his "daddy".

      December 11, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. katrinanyc

    It wasn't a "war" in Iraq, it was an occupation. Our government used public relations spin to make us believe we were fighting something there all these years. We weren't. Iraq was not Afghanistan.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. nowzesh

    Welcome home !!!

    December 11, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Alex


    December 11, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Alex

    Many of us in the military have marketable skills, i.e. medical, technical, mechanical, logistical, even legal. Plenty of lazy private citizens haven't done a thing for themselves standing in line for handouts, and WE'RE the "meatheads"?

    December 11, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. lexl

    This is probably just a short reprieve before they are shipped somewhere else-again. Sincerely, I hope not. Wecome home!!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. skytag

    Thank goodness. Now maybe we can start to put this foolish war behind us.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. Andy

    DDM is right.All u bad talkin ppl should be ashamed of urselves.I'm not American but I have so much respect for those men and women who risked their lives for u ppl.people around d world hate America,I think u guys should not make it worse by hating urself

    December 11, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      People around the world who hate America should look at themselves. I'm fairly certain much of what they think they dislike can be directed inward. That's usually the case with hate. Add to it misinformation, skewed facts flying all over the place, irrational emotions directed at easy targets, etc. etc. Unless the entire rest of the world are a bunch of peaceful saints who value nothing material in this life (and they aren't) they just need to shut up with the hate because really they are no better.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:21 am | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      Thanks but i'll be ashamed of you. Hating the war isn't hating america, in fact true patriotic people stand up for the truth

      December 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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