Local soldiers react to end of Iraq war - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local soldiers react to end of Iraq war

WAUSAU (WAOW)-- "It is definitely weird to hear that the war in Iraq, flags down, is officially over," said Lt. Jeremy Crochiere of Wausau. He was deployed to the country in 2003.

While there, he worked route clearance finding and destroying roadside bombs. "I just had to keep telling my self, 'There is somebody out there who has a job worse than me right now," he said.

Crochiere said his time in the country was life changing. "I'd say the biggest thing is probably culture shock. When I first went there, I hadn't traveled abroad prior to that and Iraq, especially the Baghdad area around 2004, was a very extreme cultural difference than what I was used to."

Sergeant 1st Class Jeffrey Hoffman had a similar reaction to Iraq. "Wow. What am I doing over here?" he said.

As Hoffman worked building bridges he saw first-hand how the enemy's tactics changed over time. "The insurgency wasn't there yet. It was kind of...they were developing their tactics, seeing what did work and what didn't work. It always changes."

Sergeant Adam Abbott of Wausau completed two tours in Iraq. 

"We drove around and looked for bombs," he said. A dangerous mission, far from home. "Most of the time your heart is into protecting your men rather than finishing a mission."

These soldiers said the end of the war in Iraq is a welcome relief for the United States, as war has dominated the last decade. "When you look back and look at how it's changed, you can see how well your mission was accomplished," said Abbott.

"I know my part was a small part. Every service member does their small part that equals the large part, which is the pulling out of the troops, so I take pride in what I did over there," said Hoffman.

But they agreed it's surreal to see this years-long war come to an end.

"That's almost my entire military career, Iraq. It's been there. So, it's one of those weird things that it's not there anymore," said Crochiere.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton



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