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RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Being separated from a husband for three or four months or more is difficult and lonely.

But the wives of deployed Air Force members said they have one thing to be thankful for: They’re not Army wives.

“We’ve talked about that,” said Debra Jones, wife of Tech. Sgt. Steven Jones, a deployed member of the 48th Munitions Squadron from RAF Lakenheath.

“We have it hard, but there are wives in a much more difficult situation,” she said.

Air Force members deploy for a few months at a time, rarely longer. The service is famous for providing comfortable quarters for its members at even the most remote locations, although, of course, there are exceptions. And air bases are most often far from the action.

Soldiers, however, can expect to be away from home for up to a year in rough conditions. Many of them will spend that time in Iraq, where they face attacks that are frequent and sometimes deadly.

“I feel blessed that my husband is in the Air Force,” said Tawnya Raub, wife of Staff Sgt. Clayton Raub of the 494th Fighter Squadron, now in the Middle East.

She rests more easily knowing her husband is far from the ongoing combat, she said, unlike the husbands of many Army wives.

“I definitely feel sorry for them that they have to worry about their husbands getting shot and killed.”

Barbara Straw, wife of Maj. Wayne Straw of the 494th Fighter Squadron, said knowing what soldiers’ wives go through makes it easier for her to cope.

“I don’t complain much at all about him being gone,” she said. “That’s got to be incredibly difficult [for Army wives].”

Also, she said, most Air Force couples can keep in touch with frequent e-mails, something not available readily to all soldiers and their wives.

Toni Conway, wife of Staff Sgt. Richard Conway of the 100th Services Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, England, is a friend of a Marine’s wife in the United States.

“He’s been gone longer than my husband. It’s really hard,” she said.

But it doesn’t really make her any more calm knowing her husband is at a place considered far from the front lines.

“Not really,” Conway said. “You know he’s in a place that’s a target, no matter what.”


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