Twenty of Alaska’s Air National Guardsmen are back home with their families after spending the last five months in Afghanistan.

The airmen are members of the 212th Rescue Squadron. They were deployed in support of Operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel.

They conducted search and rescue missions — similar to their work in Alaska. Maj. Christian Braunlich, a combat rescue officer with the 212th RQS, said their experience saving lives here meant they were more than ready for the challenges they faced overseas.

“We deployed to support personnel recovery for Department of Defense personnel in theater for situations ranging from people getting isolated from their convoys to aircraft crashes. We were standing by to rescue them,” said Braunlich. “Anytime we deploy and have the opportunity to do our mission in a tactical environment, our guys are excited to do that. The Alaska search and rescue missions we do daily keep our guys sharp, and we take pride in being extremely proficient in our tactical skill-set.”

For the very first time, the 212th also took their service dog “TOML” with them on deployment. TOML is named after the Guardian Angel’s motto, “That others may live.” He went on training missions with the unit and is also trained to provide emotional support.

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