Deploying 187th Fighter Wing and family members honored
The crowd gathered in a hangar Saturday morning at Dannelly Field fell quiet as spouses prepared to bid goodbye to their loved ones in uniform during a deployment ceremony for Montgomery’s 187th Fighter Wing.
Dignitaries including Gov. Robert Bentley, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby and base leadership thanked the 330 troops of the Alabama Air National Guard for their voluntary service to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“We have the best soldiers and the best state in the country,” Bentley said. “It’s because of all you men and women who serve in your jobs at home, but you serve our country and you serve our state so admirably.”
State and military officials also recognized the sacrifices of families who will take care of things on the home front during the unit’s 6-month deployment.
Newlywed Kelsey Bice will be away from her husband, Senior Airman Brady Bice, for the first time since their marriage.
The toughest part, she said., will be juggling her work schedule as a nurse at Baptist Medical Center South with the full-time job as mother of their two daughters, 6-year-old Braelyn and 6-month-old Kennedy.
“It scares me a little bit,” Bice said. “But I am really proud and grateful Brady gets to go and serve.”
Though his family plans to communicate regularly through Skype and video chat, the separation will not be easy for Senior Airman Bice.
“I’m ready to go and get it started, but being away from my family is just — you know, it’s really the worst part about it,” he said. “Just being away from my loved ones.”
The airman will miss many family firsts, such as Kennedy’s first birthday and his and Kelsey’s first wedding anniversary.
“We have a lot of things we’re going to do (for him) when he’s gone, like sending him care packages and cards,” Kelsey Bice said. “I’ll have to dry-freeze some wedding cake and send it, too.”
Bice will serve as the armament missiles mechanic during his deployment, loading weapons systems onto the F-16C “Fighting Falcon” fighter jets. He enlisted in the service in 2009.
The 187th Fighter wing and the historic Tuskegee Airmen 100th Fighting Wing Squadron will provide close-air support and armed cover for ground troops in the Middle East.
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