With more American soldiers dying in the Middle East, more troops are being deployed to aid in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since March of last year, members of the 165th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard have been rotating in and out of Iraq nonstop. Today, another group of Airmen deployed, leaving behind their families and loved ones.
Even with these Airmen rotating in and out of the Middle East in what seems to be a never-ending situation, their morale has been and continues to be very high. They've been deployed two, three and even four times within the last year. It's become a situation many have gotten used to.
"I guess I'm more so getting used to it, you know," said military spouse Saletria Cial. "You just learn how to adjust to him being away and pray that while he's over there, he's safe."
But for others, the emotional toll deployments take on families is still overwhelming. As mothers consoled their children and family members gave their goodbyes, more than 60 members of the 165th headed out from Travis Field this morning for another mission overseas.
It's a continuous mission that's become increasingly dangerous. "There's a lot of activity with convoys on the ground," said Col. Steve Westgate. "I think it's maybe stepped up some for airplanes. Anything around airports gets a lot of attention."
Even with the increased danger, everyone knows they have a job to do, one they do willingly. "Everybody realized this is what we have to do and that's the way we look at it," said SSgt. George Cial. "It's part of the mission we have to do, what we have to do."
While these Airmen leave to free up another group that's been waiting to come home, the families who are left behind know their continuing support is what makes these deployments a little bit easier. "I know he's covered by God and everything and I just explain to our little six-year-old Daddy's gone away to serve and protect us, you know, he'll be back soon," said Saletria.
This group is scheduled to return home in a couple of months, but it's still unknown when all the members of 165th will be home for good.