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Editorial: End of Iraq War is very welcome, remember the fallen

The red, white and blue colors of the United States were folded for a final time Thursday in Baghdad marking the official end of nearly nine bloody years of the Iraq war.

U.S. military forces held flag-lowering ceremony Thurday as a modest end to the unpopular war that began with the impressive "Shock and Awe" missile campaign hitting Baghdad.

The dictator Saddam Hussein was quickly scared from his throne, eventually captured in a hole and later executed in 2006.

Eventually the Iraq War strategy unraveled into sectarian strife and the U.S. troops numbers surged. Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and many thousands of Iraqis would lose their lives in Iraq.

Eleven individuals from west central Minnesota were among those Americans who have died serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

History will eventually judge the war in Iraq. It will be debated for decades.

Now is the time to welcome our troops home, thank those who have served and remember those who died during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Remember the fallen

The following is the list of 11 soldiers from the region who died while deployed to the Mideast:

* Pfc. Ryane G. Clark, 22, of New London, died Oct. 4, 2010, in Shekhabad, Afghanistan, serving with the 27th Combat Engineer Battalion (Airborne), 20th Combat Engineer Brigade, U.S. Army;

* Sgt. Kurt E. Kruize, a Hancock graduate and a St. Cloud resident, died April 4, 2010, in a noncombat accident while serving in Iraq with the 367th Engineering Battalion, U.S. Army;

* Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia, died July 16, 2009, in Basrah, Iraq, serving with the 34th Military Police Company of the 34th Infantry Division;

* Sgt. Matthew Ryan Kahler, 29, of Granite Falls, died Jan. 26, 2008, in Waygul, Afghanistan, while serving with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, U.S. Army.

* Sgt. Joshua Schmit, 26, of Willmar, died April 14, 2007, in Fallujah, Iraq, serving with the 1451st Transportation Company, U.S. Army;

* Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Witte, 27, of Beardsley, died Oct. 20, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq, serving with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Rmored Division, Baumholder, Germany;

* Sgt. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Bird Island and Willmar, died June 29, 2006, in Balad, Iraq, serving with the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery;

* Sgt. Brent W. Koch, 22, of Morgan, died June 16, 2006, in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, serving with E Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion of the 135th Infantry;

* Staff Sgt. David Day, 25, of St. Louis Park and Morris, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;

* Sgt. Jesse M. Lhotka, 24, of Appleton, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;

* 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, 24, Tracy, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery.