Transcript for Last American Troops Leaving Iraq
-- American soldiers packing up right now in Iraq part in the country by plane and truck. Apache attack helicopters providing air cover to troops leave this is -- in his those helicopters we'll -- our reporters from the signs in Iraq and they haven't heard. Nine years this war lasted longer than Vietnam longer than World War II one point five million Americans served. Nearly 4500 died more than 30000 wounded. The financial costs more than 800 billion dollars Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in Iraq for the closing ceremonies today. Along -- ABC's Martha Raddatz who has covered this war from the very beginning and -- this is your 21 trip to Iraq you've been there for all the ups and downs. What's it feel like on the ground today. Well I've heard words like momentous. Historic -- on this marks truly the end of mission. And there was so much reflection here today George fight every one. I flew over here in a helicopter probably one of his last drives here with general -- about Lloyd Austin he's the commanding general of US forces today. And he just looked out of the window of that helicopter and looked around. He said which makes so much progress he was on the initial invasion and now he's closing the door on the mission and about 4000. Troops who remain here they will go out in the next few days start going out leaving Iraq for good. And the defense are really -- -- today said that the military should be proud. What they accomplish but even though the American mission is ending -- the war is not completely over. It it certainly isn't completely over the State Department will remain here they'll be about 151000. Civilians and contractors here. To continue the job. To try to make it better here but there are so many many challenges that remain George we've been around the last few days we've been to Fallujah they're still very strong. Anti American feeling here. And there are fears of sectarian violence al-Qaeda is still operating here -- have so many challenges but I want to tell you one quick wonderful story George. I talk to the wife of general Martin Dempsey -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I first met him in 2003 when he was here as a commander he had cars for the 130 year war. Soldiers -- lost there I ask his wife today. Where those cards -- she said there on his desk in a box that says make it better and that's what they've tried to do here. For that is that they -- that is a wonderful. Story but as you know Martha this word deeply divided our country most Americans still believe. It wasn't worth it when -- talk to those military officers soldiers. Everyone who served and their families -- -- answer that question what's it worth it. Well I think everyone answers it in a different way actually general Austin said to me when I said what's it worth it he said. For those families who lost service members here. It will never be -- -- they will never be able to say it's worth it -- to him in the senior officers. They say it was worth they've given Iraqis an opportunity. But I'll tell you a few other people I talked to don't think it don't think -- plus. Michael you've given so much of this -- as well as he said 21 trips to Iraq. Over the last nine years thank you for all you've done.
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