AP file photo

Dozens of California National Guard soldiers return from Iraq

Family and friends gathered in San Mateo on Friday morning to welcome home more than 60 California National Guard soldiers who are among the thousands of troops President Barack Obama promised to withdraw from Iraq by year’s end.

The soldiers, most of whom live in Northern California, are from the 297th Medical Company. The unit is composed of doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, X-ray technicians and other specialized soldiers.

During their deployment to Iraq, the soldiers were responsible for providing medical and dental care for coalition personnel at various outposts throughout the country.

The company also worked alongside the Iraqi military medical unit to conduct simulated mass-casualty exercises.

The soldiers were arriving this morning at the San Mateo National Guard armory at 400 N. Humboldt St.

Since the war began in Iraq nearly nine years ago, more than 15,000 California National Guardsmen have been deployed there, 26 of whom sacrificed their lives, according to the California National Guard.

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