Midlands guardsmen deploy overseas

By Jordan Sandler - bio | email

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SC (WIS) - Some of South Carolina's bravest are on their way overseas right now. About 50 members of the Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing are going to Iraq, and more will leave over the weekend.

The plane holds some of the most important heroes their families will ever know.

Rudy Morales makes his wife's eyes sparkle, his mother cry and his little girl feel safe holding onto daddy's thumb.

"It's gonna be really tough, really tough because I've always been there for all my kids, for all four of them when they were born," said Morales, about to deploy to Iraq for the first time. "I've never left them."

"We're proud of him, he's a great dad and just proud of him," said Michelle Morales.

"He said he loved me and he'll see me in September," said Nicole Austin.

It's the final thing Austin heard from her boyfriend before he got on the plane.

Jonathan Layman, 22, is leaving the quiet of his parents' family farm, and he knows he's stepping into a new chapter of life.

"A lot of nerves, uncertainly, anxious," he said.

It's not easy for his dad to say goodbye.

"It's just hard to let him go," said Larry Layman. "But it's what he wanted to do and I'm proud of him.  It's tough to watch him go, he's young but he's grown into a man."

"We always have a kinda saying, I always tell him I'll leave the light on whenever he goes off," continued Layman. "It's something between him and I."

As the plane rises into the air, Layman knows there will be a little emptiness back at the farm, and this moment with dad is now just a memory that will have to carry on with a lot of hope until September.

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