By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis-based Air Force Reserve Unit is on its way to the Middle East.  More than 100 members of the 934th Airlift Wing said goodbye to their families Tuesday morning as they make the two-day trip to southwest Asia.

Tears, hugs and laughter filled an emotional farewell as families said goodbye to their loved ones who are answering the call to serve. For the next 120 days these pilots, navigators and mechanics will embark on a crucial and dangerous mission.

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The unit will transport troops, equipment and dignitaries through Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

“I think what our spouses have is the most difficult job,” said Cpt. Mike Doerer.

They also know it’s their families who suffer the most while they are gone, especially those who are experiencing separation for the first time.

“He’ll be gone for four months and it’s his first time and we’re a little nervous about it but excited to because he’s been working hard for this,” said Katie Doerer.

The 934th Airlift wing has prepared for this day for months.

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“You come out here every day, you fly hard, you fly smart and just make sure everything is good to go,” said Cpt. Doerer.

All who are prepared to serve know this day would not be possible without support from family. Wing Commander General Todd McCubbin acknowledged the important role that family plays.

“The families are absolutely critical to supporting our airmen because they wouldn’t be as good as they are without their support,” said McCubbin.

“We’re very proud we couldn’t be prouder and the kids want to grow up and be like their dad,” said Teresa Rettmann.

It was a big send-off for the men and women of the 934th. As they board the C-130’s, they say they will keep their mission in mind and those they leave behind in their hearts.

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General McCubbin said Air Force Reserve units rotate in and out of the Middle East, but this is the 934th’s fourth time in a row being deployed. He says it’s an honor and a credit to these Global Vikings on how well they do business.

Reg Chapman