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Tech. Sgt. Gregory James, a power production specialist with the 423rd Civil Engineering Squadron at RAF Alconbury, England, spends a few moments with his 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, and 3-year-old son, Carson, before deploying to Qatar on Tuesday. About 350 airmen deployed from RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations.

Tech. Sgt. Gregory James, a power production specialist with the 423rd Civil Engineering Squadron at RAF Alconbury, England, spends a few moments with his 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, and 3-year-old son, Carson, before deploying to Qatar on Tuesday. About 350 airmen deployed from RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Tech. Sgt. Gregory James, a power production specialist with the 423rd Civil Engineering Squadron at RAF Alconbury, England, spends a few moments with his 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, and 3-year-old son, Carson, before deploying to Qatar on Tuesday. About 350 airmen deployed from RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations.

Tech. Sgt. Gregory James, a power production specialist with the 423rd Civil Engineering Squadron at RAF Alconbury, England, spends a few moments with his 8-year-old daughter, Bailey, and 3-year-old son, Carson, before deploying to Qatar on Tuesday. About 350 airmen deployed from RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airmen awaiting to deploy to Qatar as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations make phone calls to loved ones at RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal on Tuesday.

Airmen awaiting to deploy to Qatar as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations make phone calls to loved ones at RAF Mildenhall's passenger terminal on Tuesday. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL, England — About 350 airmen from units in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the States deployed from RAF Mildenhall to Qatar on Tuesday as part of the Air Expeditionary Force 5/6 rotations.

Mildenhall’s passenger terminal served as a hub for the airmen coming from a cross-section of job fields.

Tech. Sgt. Gregory James, a power production specialist with the 423rd Civil Engineering Squadron, passed the time before his flight departed Tuesday by playing with his children inside the terminal. “It’s tough. The hardest part is just being away from the family,” said the airman from RAF Alconbury.

James and his wife, Jennifer, have five kids and are expecting another any day now. “She’s stressing out and I don’t blame her,” James said about his wife, who was due to deliver their sixth child Sunday.

Having her husband deployed is no big deal to Jennifer, but she admitted that having him gone for the delivery would be trying. “It’s the hardest thing that we’ve ever done,” she said.

Fortunately, she won’t be without any support in the coming days. Her mother and sister will be by her side, as well as her church group, she said.

Senior Airman Michael Rios, an engineering assistant for the 100th Civil Engineering Squadron, also waited for his flight with his family.

“I have some mixed feelings,” said the RAF Mildenhall airman, who has a wife and a 7-week-old daughter. Rios said that he wasn’t looking forward to being away from his newborn, but at the same time, he was eager about the new opportunity since this was his first deployment.

“It’s a whole new side of the Air Force to me, so I’m kind of excited,” he said.

He’s also looking to add a few more ribbons to his dress uniform, so he won’t be embarrassed the next time he wears it, he said jokingly.


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