PHOENIX -- More than a dozen Valley families gave tearful goodbyes Friday morning as members of the Arizona Air Guard were deployed to Afghanistan.
Fifteen airmen of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron left from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to serve a six-month mobilization tour, providing aerial port services to U.S. armed forces.
For many of the airmen -- who come from Buckeye, Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix and Surprise -- the hardest part of leaving will be spending time away from their loved ones.
“You’ve got to be strong for your family,” said Stacia Gunderson, whose husband is being deployed. “So you can’t show a lot of emotion.”
Staff Sgt. Anthony Anderson said he can still maintain contact with his wife and 13-month-old daughter while overseas.
“They’ve got programs where you can text on your phone with apps and Skype,” Anderson said. “That’s going to make it, I wouldn’t say easier, but easier.”
“Especially with her, she’s very attached to him,” Shawna Anderson, Anthony’s wife, said of their daughter. “So I hope that she can understand the concept of Skype and recognize him.”
More than 100 Arizona National Guard soldiers and airmen are still serving overseas.