NBC NATIONAL NEWS — At about the same time President Obama was at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday to greet troops and the official return of the U.S. colors that had flown over Baghdad for nearly nine years, anxious families and spontaneous applause greeted those arriving home from Iraq at the airport in Baltimore.
"It means the world to us to know that we're cared for this way and that people appreciate what we're doing for the country," said returning Air Force Major Tom Walton.
They were the last of the U.S. Air Force personnel to leave Iraq, some with huge plans for the holidays.
Staff Sergeant Bryson Barnette is getting married.
Back at Andrews, the president did not speak publicly but his presence spoke volumes about the end of the U.S. war in Iraq.
General Lloyd Austin was the last commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq and said military operations there had come to "a successful conclusion", heaping praise on the military's rank and file.
"As you reflect on your service in Iraq please know that your sacrifices were instrumental in liberating an oppressed people," Austin said.
Some of those the president greeted at Andrews were among the last U.S. troops to leave from Iraq.