The last American combat brigade has left Iraq, more than seven years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division crossed into Kuwait earlier than was widely expected. The Obama administration set a deadline of August 31 for the US combat mission to end.
Departing troops could not wait to get back to their loved ones on American soil.
“It is just a whole bunch of stress just off my shoulders but it feels good to be in Kuwait, about to head home,” said soldier Troy Danahy.
“It is just a relief, you know,” fellow soldier Timothy Berrena added. “Twelve months straight of being in that vehicle, finally getting out and realising that it could be the last time I wear that kit in a while. It is a nice feeling.”
“I did not get to have anything to do with the initial push into Iraq but we got to close it out and it is a pretty good feeling for my crew and myself,” said Sergeant Keith Chase.
The US is on target to reduce its forces in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of the month. They will remain to help advise and train the Iraqi military.
As they mark today’s milestone, American troops heading home will be mindful of their at least 4,415 US comrades who will never do so, having lost their lives in the conflict.