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Leaving Iraq and heading for McDonald's in armored vehicles

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, wait with their armored vehicles as they prepare to convoy to Kuwait from Camp Adder in Iraq on Dec. 7, 2011, near Nasiriyah.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, go through one last check as they wait to board their armored vehicles and head to Kuwait from Camp Adder in Iraq on Dec. 7, 2011.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, wait to drive their armored vehicle in a convoy to Kuwait from Camp Adder in Iraq on Dec. 7, 2011 at Camp Adder, near Nasiriyah. After seven months in Iraq, the 3rd Brigade is pulling out of the country as part of America's military exodus.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army Sergeant James Linville from Brandon, Florida and Justin Herdman from Dover, Arkansas of the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, visit a McDonald's after arriving in Kuwait from Camp Adder in Iraq on Dec. 7, 2011 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City.

We've been publishing photos from the U.S. military's pullout from Camp Adder in Iraq on PhotoBlog. Today they crossed into Kuwait and are officially out of Iraq. Looks like they got to enjoy some fast food upon their arrival in Kuwait.

More photos from Camp Adder on PhotoBlog.

Update Thursday noon ET:

Getty Images photojournalist Joe Raedle has been embedded with this first Cavalry unit since Dec. 1. He sent us some thoughts about his time with the unit and their departure from Iraq.

The unit and their experience in Iraq:

I get the feeling most of them are pretty happy to be going home. It’s been a long 7-10 month rotation for these guys.

In a contrast to some of the other times I have been covering soldiers, these seem to have enjoyed the experience for the most part.  In the short time I was with them in Camp Adder, I went out on a couple of patrols, as well as, to witness the commander of the unit Lt. Col. Robert Wright visiting with some of the local leaders. They genuinely seemed to like and trust each other. Some of the soldiers attributed this to the fact that they eliminated most of the bad guys and because of a cease-fire called by Muqtada al-Sadr to allow the U.S. to exit from the country.

The commander was also able to establish a trusting and friendly relationship with the local sheiks who would bring food to the base and allow the commander to stop by for lunch, which he and the troops look forward to because they said the food and tea was really good.

Nasiriyah and leaving at night:

I think I’ve been here about five times and from what I just witnessed, albeit only a few days, the very low hostility level between the Americans and Iraqi’s in Nasiriyah would indicate the pull out will leave behind an area that will be able to build on a successful handover.  Of course, there are so many factors that can’t be seen at this point that it’s a bit hard to say. 

Nasiriyah seemed pretty peaceful. I think they left at night because no matter what, being in this part of the world opens up opportunities for people to kill American soldiers so the night departure was a way to minimize the chances of being attacked. They treated the exit as though there was a real threat.

McDonald’s

They were all talking about what they were looking forward to at Camp Virginia in Kuwait and most seemed to be jonessing McDonald’s. There is a limited amount of fast-food on the base and since they got here early in the morning that was one of the few places open. They did have fast food on the base in Iraq but it closed a few months ago as they shut the base down, so they had been eating MRE’s for a while.

Going home and work:

I think they are all looking forward to being home with their families for the holidays. I heard some of them mention that it would be hard to leave the military and find a job. Because of this, some seem to be taking the opportunity to go to college when they leave. But the ones who have said the job market is tough, don’t seem to be saying that they would stay in the military just because of that. Many of the soldiers are looking forward to making the military a career because they like being in the military and enjoy the job.

Personally, the holiday season itself isn’t that important. We spend a lot of time on the road and just being home with my wife and friends at any time of the year is a good time. Pancho (Bernasconi, Raedle's boss) felt it is important, given what happened this year, for me to be home to spend time with my family so I plan on taking advantage of that. -- Joe Raedle

(Raedle was captured along with several other journalists and held by Moammar Gadhafi loyalists in Libya earlier in this year and fellow Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros was killed in Libya along with Tim Hetherington)