Local ROTC students react to end of Iraq war - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local ROTC students react to end of Iraq war

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

In just a few months, a new class of University of Northern Iowa Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students will graduate and enlist full-time in the U.S. Army.

"I really joined Army ROTC to carry on a family tradition -- I'm actually the fourth generation in the U.S. Army," Cadet Bryce Meier said.

These young men and women have lived most of their lives in a country at war. Now, one of those wars has officially come to an end. Wednesday, President Obama and the First Lady were in Fort Bragg to mark the official end of Operation Iraq Freedom.

"We are ending a war, not with a final battle but a final march toward home. this is an extraordinary achievement nearly nine years in the making," Obama told a group of 200 troops.

"I don't think it will truly ever be over. I think there will always be conflict," Cadet Bethanny Fischer told us Wednesday evening.

For the ROTC students, the end of the Iraq war marks the end of a chapter. But they're trained to look toward the future -- what's on the horizon, not what's in their past.

"It impacts you a little, but you always have to be looking forward. We've accomplished this, now we have to look to the next thing," said Cadet Jason Doelz.

That's how their instructor, LTC John Roadcap, has trained them to react. He's served two deployments in Iraq, and knows, while this war is over, there is always another conflict for which to prepare.

"The most recent conflicts have shown us that we'll always be in some type of conflict in the world. And the military needs to prepare for that, I think. Overall, it's a good thing for our families, soldiers, and service members to reunite, reconnect, and prepare for the next fight," Roadcap said.

The cadets are looking forward to serving their country when they graduate, and they do expect to serve in the Middle East -- likely in Afghanistan.

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