To most of us, members of the military help keep America safe, but to a precious few, they are daddies, mommies, daughters and sons.
This afternoon dozens of Montgomery area families bid farewell to about 60 Maxwell Air Force Reservists being deployed to Southwest Asia.
“I am so proud of him and I love him so much and I'm worried about him, that's all,” said Amanda Smith, wife of senior airman Daveid Smith.
The Smith family huddled together to savor one last moment together before father and husband, Daveid Smith boarded the plane.
Smith whispered to his two daughters, “I’m gunna miss you.”
This is the final of two departures, the first left Sunday with 40 airmen. In total about 100 airmen from Maxwell Air Force Reserves will provide airlift support as part of Operation Enduring Freedom for four months. It’s the largest group to go overseas from Maxwell Air Force Base since 2010.
The 908th Airlift Wing is made up of flight crews and aircraft maintenance specialists, but for about half of the crew, like Smith, this is their first time leaving home.
“I'm ready to get there, do my job, I've been trained and I know what to do,” Smith said. “I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the experience and serving my country.”
He squeezed his daughter tight and said, “It’s hard leaving my family, but we'll be alright.”
And when the time came to board the plane, the airmen's final moments with friends and family were filled with tears, hugs, and heartfelt goodbyes.
“It’s a whole lot different,” said Staff Sergeant Peggy Nguyen. “I've got more responsibilities that I didn't have before, and a little one that I'm going to miss.”
Nguyen says the up coming four-month tour in Southwest Asia is her second deployment, but first being away from her daughter.
When final calls to line up were made, Nguyen kneeled down to her daughter and wiped away tears saying, “I love you, no, mommy's not crying.”
There wasn't a dry eye on the runway, as the airmen tried to stretch out the last moments with their families to last until they return in May.
Alabama Representative Martha Roby and Congressman Mike Rogers also spoke at the send off.