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California National Guard troops return from Iraq today

November 17, 2011 |  8:16 am

GuardAs the U.S. withdraws its military forces from Iraq, nearly 500 California National Guard soldiers were set to return home Thursday after a yearlong deployment.

Soldiers from the 640th Aviation Support Battalion were scheduled to return to bases in Stockton, Los Alamitos and Coronado.

The 640th helped in the maintenance, fueling and logistical operations for 250 helicopters, as well as training Iraqi troops.

The return of the 640th from Tajik,Iraq, marks the largest return of U.S. troops since President Obama announced Oct. 21 that all U.S. forces would return by year's end, officials said.

More than 15,000 California National Guard troops have deployed to Iraq since 2003. Twenty-seven have been killed in combat.

The largest number of troops, more than 250, returned Thursday morning to the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos; later in the day, 100 are set to return to the Stockton Army Aviation Support Facility and 70 to North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Isabel Miranda, 3, at the departure last year of her cousin, Anthony Orduno, with other California National Guard soldiers to Iraq from Los Alamitos. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times