December 17th, 2011
11:28 PM ET

Deadly Iraq war ends with exit of last U.S. troops

Early Sunday, as the sun ascended to the winter sky, the very last American convoy made its way down the main highway that connects Iraq and Kuwait.

The military called it its final "tactical road march." A series of 110 heavily armored, hulking trucks and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles carrying about 500 soldiers streamed slowly but steadily out of the combat zone.

A few minutes before 8 a.m., the metal gate behind the last MRAP closed. With it came to an end a deadly and divisive war that lasted almost nine years, its enormous cost calculated in blood and billions.

Some rushed to touch the gate, forever a symbol now of an emotional, landmark day. Some cheered with the Army's ultimate expression of affirmation: "Hooah!"

Once, when hundreds of thousands of Americans were in Iraq, the main highway was better known as Main Supply Route Tampa and soldiers trekked north towards Baghdad and beyond, never knowing what danger lurked on their path.

On this monumental day, the Texas-based 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division's main concern was how to avoid a traffic jam on their final journey in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Gaumer, 37, was on this road in August 2003. It was his first time at war. He was frightened.

There was not a lot of traffic at that time, he recalled. He remembered a lot of cheering by Iraqis, even though the situation was tense.

Sunday morning, the air was decidedly different.

"It's pretty historic," he said about the drive south, hoping he will not ever have to come back through this unforgiving terrain again.

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Filed under: Iraq • Middle East • World • World Update
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. rooney

    Welcome home U.S. troops! It's great that these heros will get to spend this holiday season at home with their families and friends.

    December 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aaron

    glad they are coming home. too bad they were there in the first place. how many brave and dutiful people did we lose for this lie?

    December 18, 2011 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    Too many Aaron, way too many! Hopefully America has learned something from this but somehow i doubt it!

    December 18, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. ┴┴∩И╛╛∩Я ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    now we can go to iran and get our drone back...

    December 18, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jody

      Weird Tag!! Anyway lets not ever think about Iran. That is all we need is another gung-ho president who will use any excuse to make a name for himself. Bush made a name for himself alright but that is at the bottom of the list of presidents. History will show him as the worst president ever.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat ( in a hat )

    It's so good to see you're finally out of there warriors. Now those people can go back to doing what they do best, fight amongst themselves. It's so sad that we had to lose so many of you for nothing. God bless and keep you safe on your way home.

    December 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jody

    Thank God that is over. Obama should have brought them home three years ago. What exactly did we win. Or did we?

    December 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    That the troops were there this long had absolutely nothing to do with our POTUS.
    The current one, anyway.
    Please remember that.

    Welcome home, Troops!
    Thank you for your dedication and service.

    December 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jody

      So what are you saying? Don't quite understand your point. If Bush was still in office they would still be over there. Was that your reasoning?

      December 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sam

    Welcome home brave warriors. Guess you wondered may times how your duty was "protecting the USA". But you did your duty even though you probably could not figure out who the enemy was. I hope that we never put you through anything like this again. Protect America do your duty at our border and stop the free loaders from coming in. Thank you again.

    December 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    The troops withdrawl was decided by Bush, not Obama.
    Obama brought them home earlier than what Bush set the withdrawl for...but three years ago Iraq was too unstable to bring the troops home yet.
    In all actuality, Bush should never had started this, I will agree 1000% with you on that.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |