The 188th Fighter Wing's Security Forces Squadron said goodbye to their families at the Fort Smith Regional Airport over the weekend. Another group of airmen departed the Fort Smith Regional Airport on Monday (May 13).
The airmen head to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The airmen will be in charge of airbase security and its aircraft. However, the location is undisclosed to ensure the safety of the airmen.
It was an emotional farewell. There was a moment of silence, followed by a prayer for a safe trip and return.
However, families had a difficult time saying goodbye and knowing they will be without a husband, a brother and a son for the next six months.
Airmen Adam Carroll held his 1-year-old daughter tight. He will miss his daughter's second birthday in July.
"This is my first time to be away from her for this long," Carroll said. "But I'm ready for it. It's going to be a good experience."
Adam Carroll's wife, Kacie, said she's proud of her husband's service and sacrifice.
"It's something that he's always wanted to do and to have the courage to leave her behind for six months to serve his country, I'm proud of him," Kacie Carroll said.
Airmen and their families took advantage of every last minute. Staff Sergeant Quincy Cherry said he's been deployed before, but it will be the first time to be away from his 2-year-old son for this long.
"It's starting to hit me a little bit right now just driving to the airport, unpacking the stuff up and everything else," Cherry said.
This Mother's Day was bitter sweet for River Valley mom Lynn Reed. She said goodbye to her son Brad Wiley.
"It's really tough on Mother's Day, but I think in the grand scheme of things it's a good gesture too because he's the best gift I've ever gotten," Reed said.
The airmen will return home in November.