Air guardsmen, support arrive to JBER after months-long Iraq deployment

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Dozens of Alaska Air National Guardsmen are back home in Alaska after a months-long deployment to Iraq, an assignment that took place during some of the tensest moments we've seen overseas in months.

"We usually stick to the basics," said Patty Smith, who was welcoming her son Trevor back to Alaska. "'I miss you,' 'I love you,' just happy to see his face every once in a while.

"We're really proud," Smith said, "glad to have him back, and we just can't wait to see him again."

More than 120 days after their departures, the time came Friday for the service members to reunite with friends and family. The group was based at Al-Asad, the target of an Iranian missile attack just last month.

"The attack that happened, it doesn't interrupt what we do," said Lt. Col. Josh Armstrong, who returned with the crew Friday. "We were able to not be there when it happened and went back and picked up operations."

Friends and family were breathing a little easier with the arrival of the group, which included Air National Guardsmen from the 211th rescue squadron, and supporting airmen from other 176th Wing units.

"I'm excited, I'm relieved," said a parent. "It's good to have him home."

Smith said after her son Trevor's arrival that an overseas deployment is a whole other animal compared to watching him leave for training.

"It's one thing to have a son in the military out training," she said, "than having a son overseas in a dangerous situation."

The main mission of the group was to support Operation Inherent Resolve, in which the group stood ready for search and rescue operations - both of U.S. personnel and allies - throughout the dangerous region.

"Sixty-four Alaskan citizens that support our nation and state," said Gen. Scott Howard, Commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, "so it's truly a fantastic day to have them back."

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