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200 National Guardsmen return to SoCal

August 6, 2009 6:14:53 AM PDT
Two hundred Army National Guardsmen and women returned to Southern California Thursday after a year-long combat tour in Iraq.A Southwest charter carrying a unit of 100 guardsmen landed at the March Air Reserve Base near Moreno Valley shortly after 8:30 a.m.

After a year of separation, the men and women of the 185th Battalion were reunited with their families. They were greeted with cheers, hugs and tears of joy.

"It was a hard job, but I knew I had to do it and I got the job done. And now I'm home and I don't have to go back," said SPC. Julia Gutierrez. "I have some time off and, you know, so I can get adjusted back into the United States way of life."

According to Maj. Jeff Roach of Oceanside, the unit was responsible for convoy security for the 16th Sustainment Brigade out of Bamberg, Germany. They conducted about 2,000 combat patrols and escorted convoys over a million miles of Iraqi roadway.

"It was an interesting year. We were out there doing our mission and we're happy to be home," said Guardsman Christian Avila.

Another 100 men and women returned to March Air Force Base at 3 p.m., and more guardsmen returned to Northern California.

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