by Nick Delgado
Guam - It's official: U.S. troops all pulled out from Iraq on Thursday. And here at home our local heroes reflect on their time serving the country in the Middle East.
Signifying the end of nearly a decade of war, a ceremony was held in Baghdad commemorating America's exit from the country. Guam Army National Guard's Staff Sergeant Victor Evangelista, "I'd like to see the country of Iraq successful, to be independent and to finally live without a dictator and be oppressed and that they can experience the freedom that we have," he said. Evangelista was deployed to Iraq in 2004. He is among more than one million troops that help rebuild the country and train their military.
Along with Evangelista, Captain Manny Duenas reflects on his time serving in Iraq saying the experience is life-changing. He told KUAM News, "There were certain things that happen in 2004 for example there was a soldier that went missing and they didn't find him until I was in Afghanistan, little things like that and all the stuff happening around us and that's just one in addition to all the engagements happening around the bases."
More than 4,500 soldiers lost their lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chief Warrant Officer II Bernard Aguon says being out there helped mold them into the soldiers they are today. It's a victory the soldiers say will make the history books. "We don't need all the awards and the accolades but just for the family members of fallen soldiers to know the work they did is something the country and our island appreciates and to know what we all did out there was appreciated," he said.
President Barack Obama also plans to withdraw majority of the troops out of Afghanistan by next fall with the remainder to slowly leave by 2014.