Families bid farewell to Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing
Tech. Sgt. Jenna Hieb was saying goodbye to her parents Tuesday night but was soon to be saying hello to her brother. Adam Hieb deployed for Afghanistan on Sunday. The two technical sergeants probably will work together as 300 members of Duluth's...
Tech. Sgt. Jenna Hieb was saying goodbye to her parents Tuesday night but was soon to be saying hello to her brother.
Adam Hieb deployed for Afghanistan on Sunday. The two technical sergeants probably will work together as 300 members of Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing spend the next two months at Kandahar Air Field to offer aerial support for troops on the ground there.
The Hieb siblings, from Duluth, have been deployed together before, in 2008 in Iraq.
"Her brother owes her money," their father, Lee Hieb said with a laugh as family and friends gathered in a maintenance hangar at the Duluth base Tuesday night to say goodbye to the 90-plus Air National Guard members who will join 60 others who left last week. According to the deployment order, 150 more personnel eventually will deploy.
This will be Jenna Hieb's second deployment and Adam's fourth.
The 148th sent members to Iraq in 2005, 2007 and 2008. This deployment is its first foray into Afghanistan.
They will bring with them the new Block 50 F-16s they have been training on since the jets arrived at the base in 2010. The 148th provides aircraft, pilots and maintenance and support personnel.
Jenna Hieb said the 148th has been lucky to have relatively short missions.
Technology is also on her side when it comes to keeping in touch.
"It's the iPhone era," she said.
"Fiber is a wonderful thing," her mother Sue said of technology that allows communication across the nine-hour time difference.
The deployment was beginning to "sink in" for Carrie Ezell of Gilbert as she said goodbye to her husband, Tech. Sgt. Nat Ezell.
"You don't want him to go," she said, "but I'm so proud he is going."
This is Nat's second trip to a war zone. He also was on the 2008 deployment to Iraq.
He said his neighbors and friends in Gilbert and at work have been very supportive, making the departure easier.
"They've all said that if we need anything, just ask," he said.
"It's been awesome," Carrie said of the support. They have a son, Jordan, who is 11, and daughter, Katie, who is 7.
Now that the kids are four years older after the last time Dad went away, it's harder to explain where he is.
"When they were younger, you just said, 'Daddy's on a little vacation,' " Carrie said. "Now it's harder."
The 148th is part of the Minnesota National Guard, with 1,000 members in Duluth, 450 of them working full time on the base.
Lee Hieb no doubt welled up when he saw his daughter depart late Tuesday night.
He remembers seeing Adam and Jenna graduate from basic training.
"It really choked me up," the Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War said. "I'm so proud of them."