Military families elated over returning vets


Port Hueneme families said they were happy and relieved to see the end of the war. Many of them have paid the highest price - losing family members and loved ones.

Almost everyone in the strong military town knows someone who has served in Iraq. Oxnard resident Donna McNair, who works at a school of 400 students, said two of her former students were killed in Iraq in the last six months.

"I think there's just been too much pain over there, and I know too many people whose mothers and wives have suffered so much, and I'm glad it's going to be over," said McNair.

Thursday, Obama announced that the last American soldier will leave Iraq by year's end, closing a divisive war that has lasted nearly nine years.

It has been a long and costly war especially for those serving overseas. More than 4,400 military personnel have been lost and more than 30,000 other troops have been wounded during the course of the war, which has cost the country more than $1.3 trillion.

"It's resources that could have been used elsewhere in an economy that's doing so poorly," said Silver Strand Beach resident Jae Rauhut.

Some worry that the troop withdrawal will leave Iraq unstable and a threat to the U.S.

"We've been doing a gradual withdrawal all this time, but to say everybody is coming home, it worries me mainly because of the terrorism and instability," said Silver Strand Beach resident Dan Eastbrook.

There are currently almost 40,000 American service personnel in Iraq. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq launched in March 2003 under the Bush administration after reports surfaced that the country was developing weapons of mass destruction. Those reports were later discredited.

Obama, who has been an opponent of the war since before he took office, praised the efforts of the U.S. troops in Iraq, but did not declare victory in the war.

The withdrawal was set in motion before Obama took office. In 2008, President George W. Bush approved a deal calling for all U.S. forces to withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011.

Republicans have been skeptical of the plan, fearing a complete drawdown of troops could destabilize Iraq. However, the Obama administration says they are confident that security forces in Iraq will be able to lead their country.

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