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Prince Harry Returns to War in Afghanistan

09/07/2012 at 06:45 AM EDT

Prince Harry is back on the frontline.

The Prince, 27, arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning to begin a tour of duty as a co-pilot of an Apache attack helicopter. Observers reported that he looked “relaxed, if slightly tired” after the overnight journey on a standard troop flight from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

In a series of photos released by British authorities on Friday morning, Captain Wales, as he is known in the army, is seen giving the thumbs up and walking along a line of choppers at Camp Bastion.

A spokesman at St.. James’s Palace says, “He’s approached the deployment with a range of emotions like any other soldier and feels both pride and anticipation as he deploys for a job he’s trained for, for so long.

“Prince Harry, like any soldier, considers it a great honor to represent his country in Her Majesty’s armed forces wherever it chooses to deploy him.”

The Queen and Prince of Wales were both fully briefed about his return to operations, and Charles is “immensely proud of his son”, the Palace said.

Having already served in the conflict-riven country, in 2007 and 2008, Harry has made no secret of his desire to return.

Earlier this year, he told CBS News, “If it was a pain for anyone for me to go, which I appreciate it probably is, but, you know, at the end of the time, at the end of the day, I’ve done my training. It’s cost the Army money to train me. And if they didn’t think that they could get me out there again, then they wouldn’t have put me through this training. It’s as simple as that.”

Harry’s last 10-week tour was when he served as a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry. As an accomplished pilot, he has won the accolade of best at taking controls of the weapons and sights of the multi-million dollar machine.

The Ministry of Defense says he will be working as part of the Joint Aviation Group (JAG), which provides helicopter support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan forces operating throughout Regional Command (South West).

In a statement, the Deputy Commander of the JAG and Commanding Officer of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps in the U.K., Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue, said, “He has deployed along with the rest of the squadron as part of a long-planned and scheduled deployment to provide support to ISAF and Afghan forces operating in Helmand.

Despite representing his grandmother Queen Elizabeth in a tour of the Caribbean in March, a summer of being an ambassador for the British teams at the Olympics and Paralympics, and high-spirited partying in Las Vegas, this is his career. It will see him in the battle zone for several months – and he will be spending his 28th birthday on Sept. 15 out there.

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Prince Harry Returns to War in Afghanistan

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