Operation Iraqi Freedom claims 98 Arizona lives from 2003-2011

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PHOENIX -- So often we've seen joy, like in the hugs hello from the Arizona servicemen and women who returned from Iraq just last month.

But these last nine years of war haven't been without sacrifice. Lori Piestewa was the first person from Arizona to die and the first Native American to ever die during U.S. Military service.

2004 was the deadliest year for Arizona soldiers in Iraq. Peoria Marine Corporal Christopher Lapka was one of 23 to lose their lives. He passed up a scholarship at ASU to serve after 9/11/01.

25-year-old Caleb Christopher was on his third tour of duty in 2007. His fiancee waited at home in the Valley, and talked to him the day before he hit an IED.

"I miss him very much. I talked to him the day before he was about to take a show and go to sleep and he told me loved me and he was okay for that one day," said Rebecca Cadro, Christopher's fiancee.

The pain remains the same for these families who weren't able to welcome their hero home like they wanted to. And the ones who did come home know how lucky they are.

98 servicemen and women from Arizona died during operation Iraqi Freedom. That number totals 4, 483 nationwide.