Airmen deploy to Afghanistan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Airmen deploy to Afghanistan

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By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -  Three hundred south Georgia airmen are on their way to Afghanistan Monday night.

It was a sad day of goodbyes for those troops from Moody Air Force Base's 23rd maintenance and 23rd fighter groups, but it was also a joyful day for one couple.

Wives kiss their husbands and dads hold their babies one last time before they leave for Afghanistan. Deployments are tough but among the tears of sadness there were some tears of joy.

"I did good," said Senior Airman Stephen Lloyd.

 "You did," said Brittney Neal Smith. 

"I love you," said Lloyd.

Lloyd proposed to his girlfriend  this morning. This is Smith's grandmother's ring.

"Anything that makes her feel better when I'm gone," said Lloyd. "I would've just done it when I got back."

The young couple plans to get married next summer. This deployment is six months. For Arrec Chetwood it's his first. He and his wife plan to stay in touch online through skype.

"He bought me a teddy bear for valentine's day, it's mini Arrec," said Antoinette Jones Chetwood.

"She'll be sleeping next to that while I'm gone," said Airman First Class Arrec Chetwood.

It's the fifth deployment for Staff Sgt Ryan O'Neill with the 74th fighter squadron.

"Mostly excitement to get their again to start my job again," said O'Neill. "There's definitely anxiety cause its is a war zone."

And he says there are ways for the community to show their support.

"It'd be very helpful to get some care packages down range that lets the community know what we're doing also it helps us with things we can get down there," said O'Neill.

He hopes you'll add girl scout cookies and baby wipes if you send one.

Members of the 23rd maintenance group are headed to Kandahar to provide maintenance support to their A-10s.

"The types of capabilities the A-10s provide for our close air support mission is very important to our marines, soldiers, who depend on our services to make our mission much more effective," said Maintenance Group Cmdr. Neal Robinson.

Now families will be counting down the days until they return home and Brittany Neal Smith will be wedding planning after this very special day.

The airmen left this afternoon few.

They'll make a few stops before arriving in Afghanistan. You can click here to find out how to send care packages.

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