More allies can return home victorious.
Two nations with relatively small militaries have made a big impact during their five years of military operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Albania and Moldova have supported coalition operations in Iraq since April and September 2003 respectively, however, their missions here came to a successful end during a ceremony held in each countries honor Dec. 18 at Forward Operating Base Marez.
More than 200, 12th Contingent Albanian Komandos, and 20 Moldovan explosive ordnance disposal soldiers from their countryâ€™s sixth contingent were on hand to witness the casing of their nationâ€™s colors.
â€œThese two great nations, Albania and Moldova, are two of the examples of the many nations that have given their sons and daughters to serve the Coalition for five-plus years,â€ said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander, Multi-National Corps â€“ Iraq.
Austin was on hand as the guest speaker of the event and wanted to express his sincere gratitude for the service of both great nations.
â€œTo our Albanian and Moldovan partners, thank you for your service to the Iraqi people, he said. â€œGod bless each and every one of you.â€
Distinguished guests at the ceremony included representatives from each country, including Albanian Minister of Defense, Gazmend Oketa and Moldovan Col. Lilian Salaru, senior representative, Multi-National Corps â€“ Iraq.
Each expressed heartfelt gratitude to their troops, and took time after the ceremony to personally shake each soldierâ€™s hand and wish them well. The ceremony concluded with the casing of the colors and a thunderous round of applause from all of those in attendance.
The Komandos have been responsible for force protection and security in and outside of FOB Marez, and have suffered five wounded in action since their involvement began.
The Moldovans have safely secured more than half-a-million items of enemy ordnance since 2003, to include 7,300 pieces of unexploded ordnance around FOB Marez.