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Deployed Connecticut Airmen get a lift, in spirit and back home

Families provide an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan to members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their more than six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Families provide an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan to members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their more than six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

One of two Connecticut Army National Guard CH-47 Chinooks lands at a general aviation facility in Baltimore to pick up approximately 25 Connecticut Air National Guardsmen with the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., as they return home from Afghanistan Jan. 30, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

One of two Connecticut Army National Guard CH-47 Chinooks lands at a general aviation facility in Baltimore to pick up approximately 25 Connecticut Air National Guardsmen with the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., as they return home from Afghanistan Jan. 30, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Airmen from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Connecticut Air National Guard, pack into a CH-47 Chinook for their return flight home from a near eight-month deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan. The group of roughly 25 Airmen returned home Jan. 30, 2012, to be greeted at Bradley Air National Guard Base by their friends and family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Airmen from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Connecticut Air National Guard, pack into a CH-47 Chinook for their return flight home from a near eight-month deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan. The group of roughly 25 Airmen returned home Jan. 30, 2012, to be greeted at Bradley Air National Guard Base by their friends and family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron receive an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron receive an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

A CH-47 Chinook crew chief finalizes his pre-flight check to ready the Connecticut Airmen aboard the helicopter waiting to depart for home to Bradley Air National Guard Base Jan. 30, 2012. The Connecticut Army National Guard flew two Chinooks down to pick the Airmen up from Baltimore-Washington International Airport after the Airmen returned from being deployed to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

A CH-47 Chinook crew chief finalizes his pre-flight check to ready the Connecticut Airmen aboard the helicopter waiting to depart for home to Bradley Air National Guard Base Jan. 30, 2012. The Connecticut Army National Guard flew two Chinooks down to pick the Airmen up from Baltimore-Washington International Airport after the Airmen returned from being deployed to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Families provide an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan to members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their more than six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Families provide an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan to members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their more than six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

The family of Master Sgt. Chris Divita of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron offers an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. Divita and his troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

The family of Master Sgt. Chris Divita of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron offers an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. Divita and his troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Senior Airman Daniel Fournier, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, greets his son, Hunter, and wife, Angela upon his return home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. Hunter was born during Fournier's six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield where he performed security and patrol operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Senior Airman Daniel Fournier, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, greets his son, Hunter, and wife, Angela upon his return home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. Hunter was born during Fournier's six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield where he performed security and patrol operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron receive an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron receive an enthusiastic welcome home from Afghanistan at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Conn., Jan. 30, 2012. The troops performed security and patrol operations at Bagram Airfield during their six-month deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erin McNamara\RELEASED)

BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Conn. -- Approximately 25 Airmen from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Connecticut Air National Guard, returned home Jan. 30, 2012, after a more than six-month deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, just in time to watch Super Bowl XLVI. The Airmen arrived by international flight into Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Arriving during early evening, they were greeted by their commander and superintendent alongside the non-profit organization Operation Welcome Home Maryland. After a quick farewell to Airmen stationed with them at the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, the Connecticut Airmen boarded two CH-47 Chinooks operated by the Connecticut Army National Guard. The citizen-warriors from their own home state personally escorted the Airmen home, a fitting end to a long deployment.

The roughly two-hour flight was short when compared to the near eight months the Airmen spent away from their families, friends and jobs. At their deployed location, the Airmen performed security duties keeping the base safe from improvised explosive devices and provided around the clock response to direct and indirect fire, known as IDF.

While deployed, "The most memorable time, was definitely Sept. 11," said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Bowman, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, explaining the base received more indirect fire events than normal. "That kind of got the blood going a little bit."

According to Bowman, when they first got to Bagram they hit the ground running and were unnerved slightly from the indirect fire, but as the days went on, they got used to the indirect fire episodes that targeted the base. Part of their mission while deployed was to spin up their active shooter program, working with non-security forces personnel to stop insider threats.

The droning whirl of the engines and thwacking of the rotors hitting the air was an oddly mind-clearing experience, a stark contrast to the emotional fanfare waiting for the Airmen at Bradley Air National Guard Base. Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, adjutant general for the state of Connecticut, were a few of the first to welcome the Airmen back to Connecticut's soil.

The reception of the security forces Airmen was definitely done in style. As the Airmen debarked the Chinooks, the still-spinning rotors added to the emotional fanfare. Like a scene out of the movies, the Airmen ran out of the back of the helicopters, across the flightline and into the arms of their families.

"I'm just ecstatic to be back home, it's been a long time and--I just want to rest," said Master Sgt. Christopher Divita, also from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron. Divita, who was greeted by his three sons, daughter and wife, said the first thing he was going to do now that he was home was, "Besides in-process tomorrow morning, I'm just going to hang out with my kids and my wife and relax."

And relax they should, because these Flying Yankees more than earned their right to put their feet up for a while, at least until they are called upon once again.