Firefighter welcomed back after deployment to Qatar

The Milford Fire Department welcomed back firefighter Zak Daniel Tuesday after a six-month deployment to Qatar with the Air National Guard 103rd Airlift Wing. Firefighters gathered as a flag, which has flown in front of the station since he left, was lowered and solemnly folded.

Daniel, 30, departed July 15, 2017, and returned to the United States on Jan. 15.

Tuesday marked his second shift at the Milford Fire Department since his return. He has been a Milford firefighter about eight years.

The Milford Fire Department had flown a service star flag at fire headquarters since his deployment, as it has done for other Milford firefighters who left to serve their country. The flag represents service in the armed forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States are engaged.

A modest man, Daniel declined a bright spotlight with the half-dozen or so television and news reporters who showed up for his welcome back.

He worked as a firefighter while deployed, taking part in training and exercises, he said.

His father is also a longtime member of the Air National Guard, so signing up was sort of like “going into the family business,” he said.

“It’s nice to be able to serve my country,” Daniel said.

His fellow firefighters greeted him warmly, with hugs and smiles.

He said the thing he missed most about Milford while he was deployed was the camaraderie among the firefighters at the department.