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419th Airmen deploy during holiday season

Three planes lined up in front of each other.

Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft return to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 16, 2019, for a second combat deployment.

Senior Airman Will Macoubrie, gets helps from wife Cassidy and six-month-old daughter Reese as he packs for a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates

Senior Airman Will Macoubrie, gets helps from wife Cassidy and six-month-old daughter Reese as he packs for a deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. An F-35 crew chief in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Macoubrie joined a group of reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing including pilots, maintainers, and support personnel serving in the Middle East for about the next six months. (U.S. Air Force photo)

After nearly two full days of travel, reservists in the 419th Fighter Wing receive a welcome brief and complete in-processing paperwork after arriving at Al Dhafra Air Base

After nearly two full days of travel, reservists in the 419th Fighter Wing receive a welcome brief and complete in-processing paperwork after arriving at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, earlier this week. The group includes F-35 operations, maintenance and support personnel who deployed alongside active duty counterparts from the 388th FW for roughly six months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Rodney Ellison)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Members of the 419th Fighter Wing arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Sunday to support ongoing F-35A missions in the region. There they joined members from Hill’s active duty 388th FW, who arrived about a week earlier.

The deployed team is made up of F-35A pilots, maintainers, and support personnel. They will be deployed for about six months.

Senior Airman Will Macoubrie, an F-35 crew chief, said it will be difficult to be away from home during the holidays, given he will miss his six-month-old baby’s first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and perhaps first steps.

“I’m a pretty big family guy,” Macoubrie said. “I’ve been away from home before, but this is the first time being away from my kid, so that makes it a little bit more difficult.”

Macoubrie said he plans to use FaceTime to stay connected and hopes his schedule will align with his daughter’s sleep schedule back at home.

“She may have to stay up late or wake up early, and I’ll do the same, but we’ll stay connected,” he said.

For his wife, Cassidy, the holiday deployment is just part of military life.

“I’m excited that he has this opportunity,” she said. “It’s something he’s wanted to do for a while, so I look forward to supporting him in that.”

The deployment is the second to Al Dhafra Air Base by Hill’s fighter wings this year. Personnel who had deployed there previously returned Nov. 4. Another group of 419th FW mission support personnel are currently deployed to various locations throughout the Middle East and Europe.

“I’m really proud that our Airmen continue to step up to serve even though it often means being away from their families during really important events and milestones,” said Col. Regina Sabric, 419th FW commander. “It’s always difficult to be away from loved ones, but especially during the holidays.”

Sabric said she also wants to recognize the sacrifices made by reservists’ civilian employers who give up their employees so these Citizen Airmen can serve their nation.

“We just simply couldn’t do it without the support of our family members and our employers out there in the community,” she said. “We are exceptionally grateful for their support and we cannot thank them enough.”

The 419th and 388th FWs are the Air Force’s first combat-capable F-35A units. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill in October 2015. Hill’s fighter wings fly and maintain the Air Force’s newest fighter jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both the Reserve and active duty components. By the end of this year, Hill AFB will be home to 78 F-35As.

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