A military dog handler who risked rocket attacks and roadside bombs to protect British forces in war-torn Iraq is preparing to fly home.
Corporal Andy Moan is to be reunited with his loved ones in Sunderland after completing a tour of duty in Basra.
The RAF police dog handler served with the Theatre Military Dog Support Unit on patrol at the province's international airport playing a vital security role during the hostilities.
Risking attack by rocket-propelled grenades and Improvised Explosive Devices, the team use their canine counterparts' razor sharp senses to protect personnel and vital equipment from criminal and terrorist threats.
But last month marked the official end of the six-year British mission in the country and now the 22-year-old, who has also served on operations in Afghanistan, is preparing to join the thousands of troops returning home.
"My duties have included working as a police dog handler, as well as other wider duties involved with the policing of military operations on a civilian airfield," said Cpl Moan.
"Working closely with my dog, our aim has been to detect and deter any intruders and to provide military working dog support to ongoing transition operations."
The former Farringdon Community School pupil, who joined the RAF in 2002, is looking forward to flying home and seeing his family, including mum Lynne and dad Colin, and girlfriend Michelle.
"I love you all and will see you soon," said Cpl Moan. "I'm also looking forward to having home-cooked meals and a few beers with my friends. I'll see you all when I get back.
"I also want to thank the people of the UK for all their support for the armed forces."
The Echo is providing returning servicemen and women with the chance to let their friends and loved ones know they are back safe and sound.
We will print messages for free in the Echo, making sure that people are aware they have returned from active service.
The Echo will also publish messages from personnel in the conflict zones.
Anyone wishing to take part should send their messages to email@example.com.
Generous businesses are continuing to back the campaign.
Shops, restaurants and visitor attractions across the North East are supporting our drive to offer service personnel discounts on a range of services and products.
Any businesses that wish to take part in the scheme, and be featured in the Echo, should send a brief outline of their business and proposed offers with contact details to james.johnston
To qualify for the Honour Our Brave offers, service personnel have to show their official ID cards at participating businesses.