AK Air National Guard prepares for first Iraq Deployment

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Around 30 Guardsmen with the Alaska Air National Guard Guardian Angles in the 212th Rescue Squadron will deploy to Iraq this week.

“These are Alaskans, our citizen soldiers and everybody volunteered to do this. nobody is being forced, they want to serve not only their country but their state and do all our friends and family here proud,” Major John Romspert said.

The group is made of “combat rescue officers, pararescuemen, survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery,” according to a release from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Major Romspert said the deployment is support for Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Our main job there will be to provide combat search and rescue for American aviators and soldiers and other airmen that might find themselves in harm's way," Romspert said. "Our job is to go rescue them and bring them back.”

On Tuesday, the Guardsmen started the processing portion of the deployment which includes moving through various stations to cover items like personnel records and chaplain services while also picking up tactical gear.

The deployment is expected to last three to four months, “you never know what you'll find yourself doing day to day,” Staff Sergeant Adam Brister said.

Brister is a pararescueman who says being based in Alaska gives the unit an edge. “Not only are you going down range and deploying and getting missions, but we have an alert window we have to maintain as well and some of the missions we get in Alaska are insane,” he said.

For some in the unit, the mission to Iraq is a first deployment like Senior Airman Jeff Eisberg, who said, “My father has two deployments, my brother has a deployment, I’ve always wanted to be deployed; it’s part of the reason I joined the guard.”

Watch the remarks as they were streamed live on KTUU's Facebook page below:

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