With 25,000 active duty troops, Fort Bliss was an ideal venue for President Obama to honor military members who've served in Iraq. Since the start of the Iraq war, 200,000 personnel from Fort Bliss have deployed to Iraq serving in every major phase of the war.
Fifty-one personnel have given their lives in combat or in non-combat-related incidents. Fort Bliss soldiers played a key role in advancing stability in Iraq and helping the country transition out of combat operations. During the initial invasion in 2003, Fort Bliss soldiers raced toward Baghdad and ran into some of the fiercest fighting on the invasion.
In Nasiriyah, army units from Fort Bliss suffered some of its highest casualties. El Pasoan, Specialist Shoshana Johnson was captured along with several others.
"On the way to Baghdad, they stopped at every little town to show us off. We were their prize. I got slapped. I got spit on, just humiliated; got to Baghdad, blindfolded, interrogated. And I kept waiting for the torture and it didn't happen," said Shoshana, who was held for 22 days before being rescued by Marines.
Jessica Lynch was another P.O.W. from Fort Bliss. She was rescued from an Iraqi hospital and six days later received a hero's welcome in El Paso.
Since late last year, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division has partnered with Iraqi forces in northern Iraq. Now, 1,200 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team remain in Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi troops.