The U.S. military formally ended the nearly nine year long war in Iraq this week. The war had a heavy toll – claiming 4,500 American lives, including 49 Iowans. The financial cost of the war is estimated at $800 billion.

Two members of the Iowa National Guard who spent time in Iraq say the work they did in the country was important. Captain Jared Parmeter and Sergeant Brian Pfeiler are both back at home in Dubuque. “Our job was very important, we supplied basically the western half of Iraq with fuel and food,” Parmeter noted. Pfeiler said, “I certainly feel a sense of success if you will. The mission itself was to establish and maintain a legitimacy of the government in Iraq and that’s what we did.”

Both men are members of the Iowa National Guard’s First Battalion, 133rd Infantry. The unit served the longest continuous deployment of any combat unit in Iraq.

Parmeter said he’s proud of what American soldiers accomplished in Iraq. “It’s very much a much a success story in my eyes, but I’d rather not gloat on Iraq and instead move towards something that I see, especially in the past few years, Afghanistan is more pressing issue,” Parmeter said.

Two months ago, Pfeiler returned home from a Texas Hospital. Doctors amputated his right leg from the knee down after he stepped on an LEAD in Afghanistan.

Pfeiler and Parmeter both believe it’s important to keep the focus on the Afghan mission. “I would very much like to see the Afghan Army, the police stand on their own two feet and take interest in their own country the way the Iraqis seem to have,” Parmeter said.

(By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV)