US Iraq Troops

Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 7:55am

The last major combat brigade leaves Iraq.

Overnight, a historic moment…the last major combat brigade rolling across the border, out of Iraq and into Kuwait marking the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

NBC’s Richard Engel made the crossing with the Fourth Stryker Brigade and U.S. Army Lieutenant Steven DeWhitt.

Lieutenant Steven DeWhitt said, "We just crossed cleared all our weapons..." and later added, "It's a good feeling, really good."

While back home in San Jose, DeWhitt’s parents watched their son make it safely out of Iraq.

Lieutenant DeWhitt's mother Pat said, "So it's great to know he's headed for home. We kind of knew and thought it was going to be early September, and now it looks like he'll be on track for that."

The crossing actually came ahead of schedule, before the President’s August 31st deadline…and seven years and five months after the war began.

President Barack Obama said, "We are keeping the promise I made when I began my campaign for the presidency."

NBC Military Analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs said, "We went now because we could. We went now because we said we were going later and we have the element of surprise."

Fifty thousand American troops will stay behind to help train Iraq's security forces, but today, for these soldiers… it is the end here and the beginning of whatever comes next.

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