08/08/07 — Heroes on duty: 916th Security Forces Squadron takes on another mission

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Heroes on duty: 916th Security Forces Squadron takes on another mission

There wasn’t a large group who got their orders, packed their bags and headed off to support the U.S.’s efforts in the Middle East this week.

And it was not the first time the members of the 916th Air Refueling Unit’s Security Forces Squadron have been asked to step up to assist with keeping the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And it also was not the first time many of them will have said goodbye to their families, their jobs and their lives — at least temporarily — to answer the call to serve their country.

As you saw, the leave-taking was full of mixed emotions — desire to serve along with the sadness of leaving a family and loved ones behind. Husbands, wives, children and family members held back tears as they said goodbye and prayed for a safe return.

That is the job — and the lot in life — of the military man or woman and the families who support them.

As the war in Iraq stretches on, sometimes these leave-takings become commonplace for those of us who aren’t watching a spouse, son or daughter head off overseas.

We are proud of those who are going, but we can forget sometimes that they are embarking on a dangerous assignment that could change the course of history. It is hard for any of us to really understand just what such a departure entails. These airmen don’t spend much time detailing what the risks they will face. They are just happy to be doing their job and to serve their country.

That’s what happens when you are the home base of a group of people for whom heroism is just part of the job.

But the 916th and their families, as well as all the men and women who continue to serve here and abroad from their home base of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, should know that while we acknowledge that their service is duty, we understand and honor the sacrifices they will make and the heroes they are.

So, although there wasn’t a parade when the Security Forces Squadron took off for Iraq this week — or when some of the units from the 4th Fighter Wing return or depart — that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a swell of pride across Wayne County — and an acknowledgement that the work that will be done is momentous.

In fact, many of us probably felt a little safer, just knowing that they were headed overseas.

So, while they are gone, the rest of us will hold down the fort, and offer our services and comfort to the families they have left behind. We will watch, too, to see what is being done and admire the courage displayed.

That’s the responsibility of a military town — and it is one that is met with honor and pride.

And, soon, there will be another homecoming — with or without fanfare. That’s the result we all hope for.

Published in Editorials on August 8, 2007 12:15 PM