"Flying Jennies" headed for overseas deployment

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Air Force reservists from Keesler are headed overseas to support the war. Members of the 815th Airlift Squadron, known at the "Flying Jennies," said farewell to family and friends Tuesday morning.

Before the final farewell, Air Force reservists enjoyed some last minute family time on the flight line. Friends and family checked out the aircraft, took pictures and did their best to prolong the final moments together.

"A little sad," crew chief Jerry Wilson said. "You know it's kind of hard to leave your family in times like this. It's just hard to say goodbye, it always is. And they've got feelings. They're depressed at this moment. They don't want you to go."

His father said he's very proud of his son, but it's tough to say goodbye.

"Sure it's always difficult," Kenny Wilson said. "Anytime you've got a family member going out there. Because anything could happen. This may be the last time we ever see each other.  I feel proud. Sad that he's got to go, but somebody's got to do it."

Anthony Gehl has been with the unit six and a half years. He says separation from loved ones never gets easier.

"Little bit of stress and anxiety; worried about the boys mostly," Gehl said. "It's going to be my second deployment. They're four and six years old and they're realizing that daddy's going to be gone for a while."

"It's very difficult, but it's part of it. And I'm proud to be part of it," his wife Linda said. "It's hard to see my kids miss their dad."

As departure draws near, family members clutch flags and hug necks.

"It's very hard to say goodbye," Lynette Randall said.  Still, she somehow managed to stay strong through the tearful embraces.

"A little emotional, being that I'm leaving my family. However, I work for a great group of guys with the 815th and we serve a great God," she said, through misty eyes.

The emotional goodbyes gave way to the mission at hand. Pilots fired up the engines on the C-130's, which moved into position on the runway.

"I'm very proud of him," said one of the wives.

The Flying Jennies are headed for southeast Asia and will be away from their families for at least four months. About 150 reservists are involved in this latest deployment.

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