MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As millions of people across the nation prepare to watch President Barack Obama's speech declaring the end of U.S. combat in Iraq, soldiers and military families in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee are left with mixed emotions.
"Until each child, husband, wife, loved one is back to their own families it will never be over," said Diane Loudon who is a member of the Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina. Loudon's daughter Brandi Kelly served in Iraq for six months with the U.S. Air Force until she and her comrades were recently ordered back to their base in Germany.
"We're very grateful that she's back to where we feel that she's safer, but we still feel bad for every other child or husband or wife or loved one that's still stationed out there," said Loudon.
Michael Cantrell Jr., who served two tours in Iraq with the Army National Guard performing convoy security, says you can already see a big difference among the Iraqi people from when the U.S. first arrived until now.
"I went over in 2004 and seeing the people then and their attitudes toward the troops and then going over again in 2010 and seeing their attitudes towards the troops there's a big difference," explained Cantrell who just returned to the Grand Strand in June. "You can really tell that the Iraqi people are starting to accept democracy and they feel better about their own government."
To watch the President's address you can tune to WMBF News starting at 8pm.