GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With camera in hand, it was five-year-old Riley Blethen, who captured the final moments before her dad deployed overseas.
Her dad, Daniel Blethen, was leaving for his first deployment.
"Having pictures of them and being able to communicate back home will help. Just being able to hear their voice every other day will help," Blethen said.
Flanked with family support, Senior Airman Demetrius Newell was also leaving for his first deployment. He's also the first in his family to serve in the military.
"Family support is going to help me get through," Newell said.
"It's very difficult to leave the family and be gone for six and eight months at a time, but at the same time, we know we have a mission," Lieutenant Colonel Brenton Field III said.
Lieutenant Colonel Field should know; this is his fourth deployment to the Middle East. Though a bit routine for his family, it's still hard each time dad deploys.
"This weekend I'm in a soccer tournament. It's going to be really sad not having my dad there to see me," Brenton Field IV said.
To provide families with the support they need, the base's family readiness program teamed up with the United Service Organizations, better known as the USO, for this deployment. They offered tables full of information and fun items for kids and adults.
"It really helps to have a lot of support from the public. They support our troops and what they do, it makes it easier for us," LTC Field's wife, Irene, said.
"It hasn't really hit me fully yet. It does kind of later on," LTC Field's daughter, Ashley, said.
About 45 minutes later it did, as Ashley Field stood alongside other families crying, waving and praying.
Waves from the plane were returned with waves of red, white and blue, one of the final mental snap shots the 255th took with them as they left to serve halfway across the globe.