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State’s largest Guard unit returning after Iraq tour

SEATTLE – Washington National Guard’s largest unit has finished its nine-month tour of duty in Iraq and was on its way home.

A ceremony at Camp Ramadi earlier this week signaled the end of the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s second tour of duty in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Emily Suhr said it was still unclear exactly when the soldiers will be returning to Washington.

The brigade’s six battalions and headquarters companies worked at 10 bases in Iraq.

Much of their duties involved protecting convoys that transport fuel, food and other supplies.

The brigade suffered one casualty during its tour in Iraq. Spc. Samuel Stone, 20, of Port Orchard, Wash., was killed in a non-combat-related incident May 30.

The brigade includes soldiers from all over Washington state, plus some from California.