After three days of searching, a National Guard medical unit spotted something Thursday morning that would be the start to a happy ending.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Poppick was the first to find what dozens of search crews were looking for: missing hiker Cody Michael.

"I actually saw his back trying to go up," he said. "I was like, 'I think that's him.'"

Poppick's four-member team then sprang into action, developing a plan for how to get him off the end of a cliff.

Because of the steep terrain, landing the chopper wasn't an option.

But since the crew has trained for many hoist rescues, this one was simply second-nature.

Staff Sgt. Greg Proell helped hoist Cody and his dog, Bauer, into the helicopter.

"I was giving (Cody) hand signals to get down, pretty much lay flat on the ground and hold onto his dog," he said. "He immediately understood that. He set himself up on a nice little area to where we were able to get to him and make the rescue."

Cody Michael had been lost for 72 hours, but the national guardsmen said it was his survival instincts, that ultimately paid off.

"It was a picture perfect scenario," Staff Sgt. Proell said. "He was healthy. He was able to keep hydrated. He had his dog with him. They had almost no injuries."

When he was being hoisted to safety, the national guardsmen say they were showered with thanks. Michael later called them "heroes" for saving his life.

But for this National Guard unit, saving lives is exactly what they signed up for.

"It's very rewarding," Staff Sgt. Poppick said. "It gives us the motivational boost to continue doing what we do."