News>Father's Day especially poignant for deployed Airmen
Tech. Sgt. Joshua Reckord, an avionics technician assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, prepares to conduct maintenance on the avionics system in an F-16 Fighting Falcon June 13, 2012. Reckford displays a "Hey Dad" sign to wish his Dad a Happy Father's Day. Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/TSgt. Caycee Cook)
Staff Sgt. Keith Moore, an electro and environmental crew chief assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, checks the forms for F-16 Fighting Falcon maintenance on the flight line June 13, 2012. Moore displays a "Hey Dad" sign to wish his Dad a Happy Father's Day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Caycee Cook)
by Tech Sgt. Stephen Hudson
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
6/20/2012 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- As Americans celebrated Father's Day with cookouts along with cards and gifts for dad; the weekend was especially poignant for many deployed service members, since they are away from their children -many for the first time.
That group of dads includes a number of fathers currently assigned to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing here supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. While being away from home on Father's Day can be hard for any father, several new fathers are experiencing it for the first time.
New dad, Staff Sgt. Michael Downard, an F-16 avionics craftsman, with the 451st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, deployed to Kandahar Airfield, said he welcomed his new baby girl into the world a month before he left.
"It's awesome," Staff Sgt. Downard said of being a new father. "Just being a dad makes Father's Day more special."
Downard's sentiments were echoed by other deployed fathers, including Airman 1st Class Jonathan Moran, a munitions specialist with the 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron (EMXS) here. Airman Moran said he found out the sex of his and his wife's unborn baby while deployed here. He and, his wife, Amanda will have a boy due Oct. 1.
"My dad has always meant a lot to me, and now I am going to be a dad," Airman Moran said. "I'm really excited."
Airman Moran said his wife told him the big news over the phone and the doctor's office made a disk of the ultrasound and sent it to him. He also planned on Skyping with his wife on Father's Day.
"I wish I was there to support her through the pregnancy," Airman Moran said. And while his wife is sending him a care package to open on Father's Day, Airman Moran said, "I'd rather be home."
Whether they are a new dad, soon-to-be-dad, or a dad that's deployed before, being away from home on a special day can be tough.
Staff Sgt. Tim Alewine, a munitions specialist also with the 451st EXMS, is not new to deployments; however, he said being away from children is never easy no matter what their age. Alewine said he has missed birthdays and other big days, but never Father's Day.
"They know exactly why I am away," Staff Sgt. Alewine said of his two daughters, ages 10 and 15. "It's a little tougher this time around."
But while these Airmen are away from home, and missing their families, their spirits are high and they understand their sacrifices are part of the larger mission to protect American and coalition ground forces through air power and to bring about a secure Afghanistan.