It wasan emotional morning at Minot Air Force Base as family and friends said goodbyeto their loved ones who are leaving for the Asia-Pacific.
Camouflage luggage and bags linedthe parking lot this morning as airmen said goodbye to their family andfriends.
"This is the main body, sowe've already have an echelon team. We've also sent over B-52's as wellas the air crew on them. We sent the 8th Air Force Commander over there,and we sent over our Wing Commander. They're going to go over and basicallyget a good look at the mission while they're over there," says Cpt.Michael Middents of the MAFB 69th Bomb Squadron.
Since some of the airmen left for Guam earlier this week, they've already been getting ajump start on what's to come in the next six to seven months.
"Ouradvanced team will start kind of greasing the skids as we like to call it andthen, after that, the B-52's will flow in and our guys will catch them and theneverybody else who makes the mission happen is coming over today," says Middents.
Whilethe deployment is part of the United States Air Force's ongoing mission toprovide stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region, it's still nevereasy to say goodbye.
"You're50 percent torn. You see that family, you see the tears in yourkid's eyes and it's quite an emotional experience. But, at the sametime, the mission needs to happen and you got that in your mind as well,"says Middents.
As thefinal bags are marked and loaded onto the trucks, reality begins to setin. And, the airmen will soon find themselves in an unfamiliar place.
"Yougo from this what are we 7 degrees today in Minot," says Middents. "It was -40 a couple days ago. We're going to 88degrees. So, you got temperature change, you got a culture change and yougot a mission change itself."
For Middents and the rest of his crew, it's a chance to practice a full-spectrumof capabilities for their mission set.
"InMinot, we go toa lot of local ranges. But, out there, we get to go fly to severaldifferent areas that our allies support us in and have a show of presence foranyone else that we would have a deterrence toward," he says.
Formore than a third of the squadron, this will be their first trip to AndersenAir Force Base. This deploymentis part of a continuous rotation in and out of Guamfrom both Minot and Barksdale.