Defense Sec'y Panetta formally ends U.S. war in Iraq

Today marked the official end of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq, which means that thousands of servicemen and women will be coming home for

WOODBURY - Today marked the official end of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq, which means that thousands of servicemen and women will be coming home for the holidays.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke at a ceremony in Baghdad, where the flags of the U.S. and Iraq were rolled up and wrapped in camouflage.

"You have done everything your nation asked you to do, and more," Panetta told the troops today.

President Barack Obama called the day a "historic moment."

The news caused Fred Seitz, of East Islip, to breathe a small sigh of relief. His son, Staff Sgt. Rick Seitz, will be coming home just in time for Christmas.

"I just look at it as one less place for them to send my son," Seitz says.

The war, which started in March 2003, has left nearly 4,500 U.S. service members dead and about 32,000 wounded. As many as 100,000 Iraqis died in the conflict. The financial cost of the war is estimated at around $800 billion.

The final 4,000 troops that are still in Iraq will be out of the county by Dec. 31.

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