Staff Sgt. Alfaz Sajid Khan, an airman with the Alaska Air National Guard, will be remembered in a memorial service at Eielson Air Force Base Wednesday after drowning while rescuing his dog from a river.

Khan, 22, went missing May 10 when he was swept away by the current at the point where the Tanana and Chena rivers intersect, near the Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska, the Alaska National Guard said in a release.

The memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m. local time at the 168th Maintenance Hanger at Eielson, the release said. Only family members and colleagues will be allowed to attend, to maintain appropriate social distancing practices. The Alaska Guard said Khan’s next of kin have been notified of his death.

According to a dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers May 10, Khan was fishing on the Tanana when his dog went into the river. Khan followed to try to save his dog’s life, but the dog made it back to shore on its own, the troopers said.

Khan, however was not able to save himself. The troopers said he was last seen about 50 yards from the shore,, went under the surface and was not seen again.

Khan initially enlisted with the 168th Wing of the Air National Guard at Eielson in February 2016, and worked as an electrical environmental journeyman in the 168th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He became a full-time active Guard/Reserve airman in April 2019.

“Alfaz will be remembered as a true professional with an amazing attitude and a loving, gregarious nature,” wing commander Col. Richard Adams said in the release.

Photographs on Khan’s Facebook page suggest he was an avid hunter, fisher and outdoorsman.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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