BAGHDAD, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The last convoy of U.S. soldiers left Iraq Sunday morning into Kuwait, ending almost nine years of war that claimed more than 4,500 U.S. lives.
The event was relatively quiet with little celebration as some 500 soldiers boarded 110 trucks and headed through the desert for a 5-hour drive to the Khabari border crossing, CNN reported.
The troops left the Adder base in southern Dhi Qar province in the hands of the Iraqi military with infrastructure and supplies worth $76 million, the U.S. Defense Department said. The base used to house 12,000 people, the report said.
Pvt. Josh Johnson, 20, has been in Iraq for 11 months. He was in Grade 5 when the war started in March 2003 . He told Stars and Stripes he was relieved to have reached Kuwait.
"Now that we're here we don't have to worry about much of a threat now," he said. "I'm thankful the war is ending."
The formal drawdown ceremony was held in Baghdad Thursday when full responsibility for security was handed over to Iraqi military leaders.
At the peak of fighting in 2006, the United States had 239,000 soldiers in the country as well as 135,000 contractors, the reports said. In all, more than 1.5 million U.S. troops served in Iraq.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, President Barack Obama called on U.S. employers to embrace returning veterans.
"After years of rebuilding Iraq, it is time to enlist our veterans and all our people in the work of rebuilding America," Obama said.