J. Craig Anderson, Staff Writer
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When American soldiers in Afghanistan are moving through dangerous territory, they have friends in the skies watching over them.

These guardian angels scan the surrounding areas for enemy positions, activity and movement, relaying that vital intelligence to troops on the ground.

One such person is Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mike McGovern of Eddington, who recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan. He also has done tours of duty in Iraq and Bosnia.

McGovern’s job in Afghanistan was to pilot a Beechcraft Super King Air twin-turboprop aircraft high above the ground forces, performing surveillance and reconaissance missions.

It’s an important job that McGovern, a longtime aviator and former airline pilot, is proud to do.

“We definitely help keep people alive by doing this,” he said. “The troops love us – it’s a great asset to them.”

Although McGovern is in the U.S. Army National Guard, he has been on active duty since 2007 and plans to continue being a military pilot as his full-time job.

It’s not always easy. In Afghanistan, he said, life was highly structured and repetitive, and the base where he lived frequently was under fire from enemy rockets.

Unless they were engaged in a mission, the troops usually remained inside their rocket-proof barracks, McGovern said.

“It’s almost like living in prison, really,” he said.

When he isn’t deployed overseas, McGovern charters a small plane in Maine for the Operational Support Airlift Command. He has transported soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, senators, governors and other officials for the military.

“I’ve flown Gov. (John) Baldacci two or three times,” he said.

Although he doesn’t like having to spend long stretches of time away from his family, McGovern said being a military pilot is a worthwhile profession.

“Other than the deployments, it’s a pretty good job,” he said.