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Special tactics unit returns from Afghanistan

Friends and family members welcome home a dozen members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., May 5, 2012. The Airmen spent six months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Friends and family members welcome home a dozen members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., May 5, 2012. The Airmen spent six months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Friends and family members welcome home a dozen members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., May 5, 2012. The Airmen spent six months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

Friends and family members welcome home a dozen members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron on the flight line of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., May 5, 2012. The Airmen spent six months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Scores of family, friends and coworkers packed the flight line here May 5 to show their appreciation for a dozen members of Kentucky's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, all of whom were returning home from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Kentucky Airmen are assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command and have played a key role in numerous U.S. special operations since 9/11.

The elite Airmen often work alongside other Special Forces such as Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. They may call in air strikes, control special operations aircraft, recover downed troops or collect mission-critical weather data.

"My primary job was to provide air-to-ground support as a liaison for special operations troops there on the ground," said Tech. Sgt. Harley Bobay, a combat controller in the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

"We train constantly to do our missions," he added. "We'll start training again in about a month."