TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Two years away from your friends, family, favorite restaurants and home is a long time especially when you are in a country with a totally different culture and where English is not the native language.

That is how much time Special Missions Aviator for the Air Force Gregory Dorton spent away from home while he was overseas in Okinawa, Japan serving his country.

While serving Dorton was always on call for search and rescue missions.

“I’m a HH60 special missions aviator, so we do combat search and rescue on an HH60, kind of like a Blackhawk, the Air Force’s version of a Blackhawk,” Dorton says.

Although Dorton’s line of work can be very dangerous, he says that his most memorable mission did not take place on a battlefield.

“I did some rescues down in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, and I ended up saving 13 people, and was put up for the Cheney Award, and ended up winning the Cheney Award for that,” stated Dorton.

That mission and the award for an act of valor and extreme fortitude was one of the highlights of his career, so far.

For two years Dorton along with his family lived overseas in Japan where he is stationed. Dorton had not set foot in the Tri-Cities the entire time.

“When you’re in the military, you’re kind of always on call,” he says. “This is one of the few times I get to turn my phone off and just kind of disconnect from that work environment…(It’s a) completely different world over there, so this feels like homecoming back, for sure,” stated Dorton.

He says now that he is back he is looking forward to spending time with friends and family and getting a taste of the home life.