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161 ARW "Port Dawgs" return from Afghanistan deployment

Master Sgt. Julie Pederson, Master Sgt. Elizabeth Koger and Master Sgt. Matthew Haefemeyer of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona by the USO at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Master Sgt. Julie Pederson, Master Sgt. Elizabeth Koger and Master Sgt. Matthew Haefemeyer of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona by the USO at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Staff Sgt. Jesus Rosales of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron is welcomed back to Arizona by his friends and family at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after his recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Staff Sgt. Jesus Rosales of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron is welcomed back to Arizona by his friends and family at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after his recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Airmen of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona by the USO at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Airmen of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona by the USO at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Master Sgt. Perry Toro, Staff Sgt. Michael Gunderson, Staff Sgt. Alfred Delaporta and Staff Sgt. David Rice of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Master Sgt. Perry Toro, Staff Sgt. Michael Gunderson, Staff Sgt. Alfred Delaporta and Staff Sgt. David Rice of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Senior Airman Ryan Culp, Staff Sgt. Rene Constante, Staff Sgt. Oscar Serna and Technical Sgt. Jeon Turner of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

Senior Airman Ryan Culp, Staff Sgt. Rene Constante, Staff Sgt. Oscar Serna and Technical Sgt. Jeon Turner of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron are welcomed back to Arizona at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after their recent deployment, Oct. 3, 2014. Fourteen Airmen from the 161st ARW Aerial Port spent seven months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U. S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly M. Deitloff/released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- Airmen from the 161st  Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerial Port recently returned home following a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Aerial Port personnel, also known as "Port Dawgs," provide military logistical functions for United States and coalition forces, including processing personnel and cargo and loading equipment, as well as preparing air cargo and load plans, and managing the passenger terminal.

The aerial porters were recognized while deployed - as a group and as individuals - for their dedication to their assigned tasks.

Staff Sgt. Alfred Delaporta, 161 LRS air transportation journeyman, was recognized by Maj. Gen. Warren Berry, Air Mobility Command director of logistics, for work as a member of the Contingency Asset Recovery Team.

Staff Sgt. Jesus Rosales, 161 LRS air transportation specialist, was named the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's Warrior of the Month for July 2014, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Rosales was recognized for his stellar performance as a ramp services technician while operating multi-million dollar material handling equipment. He also served as a cargo processor where he checked in cargo and verified documentation.

In addition, Master Sgt. Matthew Haefemeyer, 161 LRS air transportation specialist, was recognized for rendering life-saving aid to a victim after an indirect fire attack.

The returning Port Dawgs were welcomed home by family, friends and a crowd of fellow Airmen.

"It feels great to be home," said Master Sgt. Perry Toro, 161 LRS load planning noncommissioned officer in charge. "I can't put it any other way."

Although sacrifices are made when National Guard service members are away from home and their civilian employment, supporting America's war efforts is well worth the sacrifice, said Toro. "It feels like you're contributing more - you know you are. It felt great to be working and contributing to the real-world war effort. We were at the front of the effort and we took care of business."

He said the real-world experience they gained from this deployment has made them a better team.

"We worked hand-in-hand with the task forces; working directly with the warfighters and helping them with their cargo," said Toro. "The aerial port as it stands today is a heck of a lot better than it was seven months ago. We have more experience now and from this point forward I see nothing but leaps and bounds for our unit."