Mar 19, 2013 9:23 PM by Matt Stafford
"On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war," President George W. Bush told to the American people and the world on March 19th, 2003
It's been ten years since that day, and a lot has changed since what's referred to as the shock and awe invasion -- a showcase of American military power directed at the country of Iraq.
Just two months after the war began southern Colorado received news of their first local casualty - Pfc. Jesse Givens, who had been stationed at Fort Carson.
Around the same time as Private Givens' death - May 2003 - Saddam Hussein's regime fell and President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
But that was far from the end.
Roadside bombs and an insurgency marked the middle years of the conflict. US leaders had to rethink strategy; they began what's called the surge - increasing troop levels.
Locally tens of thousands of soldiers deployed from Fort Carson throughout the war's duration - 258 died.
Seven years after the fighting began, combat operations in Iraq came to a close. It was August 2010, and the nation watched as troops left the country.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was followed by Operation New Dawn, leaving behind a transitional force of about 50,000. That came to a close in 2011.
Iraq is still experiencing violence. 56 people are dead and another 200 wounded following a series of bombings on Tuesday, according to AP reports.
"It doesn't feel like it's that long ago," says Andrew Fox, who deployed once to Kuwait and twice to Iraq. Not long after President Bush's announcement on the Iraq invasion in March 2003, Fox got the call that his unit was preparing to deploy.
Fox carries the names of friends he lost from the war on his arm. He received a traumatic brain injury himself, and had multiple close calls.
Regardless of public opinion of the war, Fox is proud of his service and that of those with served with him.
Fox's work wasn't done when he left Iraq; when he got home he had things that he needed to deal with. Now - because of his own struggles - he has a passion to help veterans having trouble at home.
"Every person I've ever talked to, that has gotten out, it's been a hard struggle," says Fox.
He's not through with his struggles yet, but he says trying to stay positive - no matter what - has helped him move on.
Along with the war in Iraq, the US has also focused attention on Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; that war began before the war in Iraq and is still going on. Right now that war is nearing 13 years.