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Coast Guard team returns to San Diego after pirate-hunting mission

March 6, 2011 |  1:54 pm

The departure and return of military troops assigned to duty in a combat zone is part of the everyday life of San Diego County -- and what sets it apart from the rest of Southern California.

Two weeks ago, 2,200 Marines and 1,800 sailors left San Diego aboard three Navy ships deployed to the Western Pacific, and the Persian Gulf if ordered.

At Camp Pendleton, plans are underway for the return next month of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment from the bloody battle in the Sangin district of Afghanistan. Twenty-four Marines from the battalion have been killed in combat.

The 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, also from Camp Pendleton, will replace the Three-Five in Sangin, where a Taliban counteroffensive is anticipated.

And on Saturday night, members of the Coast Guard's Maritime Safety and Security Team returned to San Diego after a four-month deployment to the Gulf of Aden in support of an anti-piracy mission.

A San Diego-based ship, the destroyer Sterett, remains in the region as part of the multinational task force assigned to stop Somalia-based pirates from ravaging merchant vessels.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A member of a Coast Guard anti-piracy team is reunited with his family. Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry G. Dunphy