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Heading to war zones

Heading to war zones

Jessica McDonnell had a difficult time Wednesday saying goodbye to her fiancee, Alexander Lammi.

Charleston Air Force Base's 15th Airlift Squadron lifted off Wednesday night for a deployment in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The full squadron of about 130 airmen is bound for an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, from which it will fly missions in and out of the two Middle Eastern countries for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The C-17 cargo aircraft squadron will transport troops and supplies and fly medical evacuation missions.

"I'm very proud to deploy with this squadron," said Lt. Col. John Lamontagne, squadron commander, in a prepared statement.

"They have worked very hard in preparation for this deployment, and although it will be difficult to

leave our families behind, I know the squadron will execute the mission well."

The airmen will be overseas for several months and will replace Charleston's 14th Airlift Squadron, which could be returning home as early as next week, said Lt. Michaela Judge of the base's public affairs office.

Family members of the 15th Squadron said their farewells Wednesday at the passenger terminal.

"They are used to seeing them come and go, and they are extremely supportive because they know how important the missions are," Judge said. "They have their Air Force family to take care of them while their loved ones are gone."

She said a spouse program at the base keeps families informed about the squadron and links dependents to help with a variety of issues while military members are deployed.

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