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War comes to a close and troops head for home

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, carry their bags to customs as they prepare to fly home to Fort Hood, Texas after being one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq on December 15, 2011 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Today the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after eight years of war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, salute during the playing of retreat during the daily flag lowering ceremony as they prepare to fly home to Fort Hood, Texas after being one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq on Dec.15 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Today the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after eight years of war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

After being stationed at one of the few remaining U.S. bases in Iraq at Camp Adder, these soldiers today prepared to board their flight home to the United States from Kuwait. Most of them had been in Iraq for the past 7 to 10 months. Getty photographer Joe Raedle spent the past few weeks embedded with the troops. One of their first stops after leaving Iraq was McDonald's, after several weeks eating only MRE's (Meal, Ready to Eat).

The U.S. military's pullout of Iraq was formally recognized today with a flag ceremony in Baghdad. While 4,000 troops remain in the country, they will be completely out by the end of the year.

Read the full story: 'A new chapter': US officially ends Iraq war.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, carry their bags to waiting trucks as they prepare to board buses later in the evening to fly home to Fort Hood, Texas after being one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq on December 15, 2011 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Today the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after eight years of war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

 

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A U.S. Army soldier from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, packs his helmet into his travel bag for the last time before the flight home from Kuwait after their unit exited from Iraq on Dec. 15 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, place their bags on a truck as they prepare to board buses later in the evening to fly home to Fort Hood, Texas after being one of the last American combat units to exit from Iraq on Dec. 15 at Camp Virginia, near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Today the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after eight years of war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.