More Air Guardsmen Deploy to Middle East - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/10/04

More Air Guardsmen Deploy to Middle East

Families wave goodbye to their loved ones. Families wave goodbye to their loved ones.

For the last year or more, the 165th Georgia Air National Guard has been in and out of Iraq. WTOC was there this morning as another part of the group headed for the Middle East and found out how these deployments are taking their toll on the family members left behind.

For those with young children, these deployments often hit them the hardest. "She's starting to understand," said military spouse Kim Mitchell. "Before, she didn't really know, but now she wants to go wherever he's at. Her favorite thing is, 'I love Daddy.'"

For many of the Airmen departing today, it's their fourth trip to a location that's still a very hostile place. "We're flying those planes in all the airports in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you have to be on your toes at every approach and every landing and other things as well," said Col. Steve Westgate.

Even though several of them have been rotating in and out of Iraq for the past year, these deployments are becoming anything but routine. "Bad things are happening every day, and so it's not safe," said Westgate. "The missions are not routine, yes as long as there's going to be violence, they will not be routine."

This deployment, like the others, will only last a couple of months, but as long as there's a war going on, they'll keep rotating in and out of the Middle East indefinitely. "Hopefully, we won't have to be doing this too much longer, but we don't know the answer yet to that," said Westgate.

"I just wish all of them the best and all of us are waiting for them to come back home," said Kim Mitchell.

The group of Airmen who left two months ago are scheduled to return home next week.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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