Fort Stewart Soldiers' Thoughts on Iraq Anniversary

No one knows the cost of these four years any better than the soldiers and families of the Third Infantry. The division led the first charge into Iraq back in 2003. Many soldiers have spent more time there than home since then.

Amid the lunch rush in Hinesville, soldiers don't talk much about Iraq. Even on the fourth anniversary of the charge into that country, most steer clear of the political hot potato.

"It's not a matter of my personal opinion. It's, 'You signed up for the Army.' It's what you've got to do," said Sgt. Brian Dentel.

While many Americans debate the issue of Iraq in abstract, these soldiers have the most invested in the outcome, in the amount of time they've spent there and the lives sacrificed there.

At Fort Stewart, more than three hundred trees stand in memory for the Marne Division soldiers killed in Iraq over the last four years.

Thomas Foley is a medic preparing for his second tour of duty there. Despite the lives lost, he says he's seen plenty of progress.

"I think that all gets drowned out by all the attacks and violence and you rarely hear about the other things going on," Pfc. Foley noted.

He says, unfortunately, one car bomb can destroy weeks of goodwill building with Iraqi civilians. However, he says, he believes in the mission.

"I see what we're doing for these people and I feel good about my job. I feel good about the job I do and because the people of the US support me, I want to do it," Foley added.

While most of the division's soldiers will spend the next year away from home, Foley says support from the Coastal Empire makes that time a little easier to take.

The majority of the Third Infantry will deploy to Iraq in the coming months. WTOC will continue to monitor their departures and their return.

Reported by Dal Cannady,