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August 18, 2010
Last U.S. combat brigade heads home from Iraq
KHABARI CROSSING, Kuwait (AP) - As their convoy reached the barbed wire at the border crossing out of Iraq on Wednesday, the soldiers whooped and cheered. Then they scrambled out of their stifling hot armored vehicles, unfurled an American flag and posed for group photos.
For these troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism. Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama's Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there.
The Stryker brigade, based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and named for the vehicle that delivers troops into and out of battle, has lost 34 troops in Iraq. It was at the forefront of many of the fiercest battles, including operations in eastern Baghdad and Diyala province, an epicenter of the insurgency, during "the surge" of 2007. It evacuated troops at the battle of Tarmiyah, an outpost where 28 out of 34 soldiers were wounded holding off insurgents. (18 images)

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A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division waves from his Stryker armored vehicle after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. The soldiers are part of the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. AP / Maya Alleruzzo


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U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division race toward the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. The soldiers are part of the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A column of U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles cross the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicle crosses the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicle crosses the border from Iraq into Kuwait Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jackie Vanover, from Spanaway, Wash. holds a hand-made message for his family, including his two-month-old daughter, Austin, on Aug. 16, 2010, after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army Lt. Col. Darron Wright, deputy commander, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, smokes a cigar after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait, on Aug. 16, 2010, more than seven years after he drove into Iraq during the US invasion. Lt. Col Wright, from Mesquite, Texas, is the deputy commander of the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment pose with an American flag for a photograph after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers celebrate immediately after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army Sgt. Nathaniel Hatcher relaxes inside a Stryker armored vehicle after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. Sgt. Hatcher, from San Diego, Calif., and his comrades from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, are the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment count ammunition before turning it in after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment count ammunition before turning it in after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. The soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, are the last combat brigade to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo) AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A U.S Army soldier dismantles a machine gun mounted on his Stryker armored vehicle immediately after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 16, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Luke Dill, from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division are seen in the motor pool at Camp Virginia in Kuwait as they strip their armored Stryker vehicles before shipping them to the U.S. on Aug. 16, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers from C Co., 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division gather for inspection of their night-vision and equipment before driving from Iraq to Kuwait on Aug. 15, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicle from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division rolls through southern Iraq en route to Kuwait on Aug. 15, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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A column of U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division roll through southern Iraq en route to Kuwait on Aug. 15, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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U.S. Army soldiers from C Co., 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division gather for a formation before driving from Iraq to Kuwai on Aug. 14, 2010. AP / Maya Alleruzzo



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