CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Today, marks the 11th anniversary since U.S. troops invaded Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom, later replaced by Operation New Dawn, changed the lives of many brave men and women sent to fight for our county. WINK News sat down with a "Gold Star Wife" who's husband served two tours of duty in Iraq, before he was killed during a mission in Afghanistan.
"He took his last breath at 9:25 on March 21st, 2011 and I was able to give him one last kiss and say goodbye."
A war widow tells the story of a true hero who died in combat.
"The snipers bullet entered the left side of his neck, severing his spinal cord and within 48 hours was flown to Walter Reed Medical Hospital in Washington D.C.," said war widow, Melissa Jarboe.
Sgt. Jamie Jarboe deployed twice to Iraq and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, but, a mission in Afghanistan took his life.
"How many woman can say my husband protects America? It's a truly great honor," said Jarboe.
His wife, Melissa Jarboe spent many nights praying for her husband's safe return.
"When you marry a service member, you are accepting those conditions, and those long deployments, those long nights when you are home alone, it's a great honor."
On this day, March 20 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. Sgt. Jarboe, a young soldier, was sent to the front lines.
"He volunteered to sign and serve the United States Army, he volunteered to go on deployments, he volunteered to do this as his career and his routine daily life, and I honor that."
Now, 11 years later, Southwest Florida remembers those who sacrificed it all.
"He found out what a road side bomb was, he found out coming home from Iraq and trying to drive in the car, was an obstacle for him to overcome," Jarboe told WINK News.
This monument in Cape Coral keeps our servicemen and women's memory's fresh in our hearts, while reflecting on eight years our country was at war.
The U.S. withdrew it's troops in December 2011. During the war in Iraq, a total of 4, 486 soldiers were killed. Also, WINK News photographer Alex Cook has his name engraved on the Iraq monument for his service in Iraq.