Network of Support for Families of Deployed 148th Members

By KBJR News 1

August 8, 2012 Updated Aug 8, 2012 at 5:41 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - 150 men and women with the 148th Fighter Wing will soon touch down in Afghanistan for a two month deployment.

It was a bittersweet deployment event at the air guard base Tuesday night, as the Bulldogs said farewell to their loved ones and friends. They say they're as prepared as they can be for the mission, but as for what they're leaving behind, that's a different story.

Deployment is old hat to Staff Sgt. Chris Axelson now on his third mission. But this mission comes with anxiety.

"It's all of our first time in Afghanistan. Can't look to anybody to kind of tell you what to expect, what it's going to be like," Staff Sgt. Axelson said.

24 year-old Axelson's mission will be two-fold. He'll be loading weapons onto F16 jets and act as the unit's public affairs representative. He says he's as prepared as one can be under the circumstances.

"I'm currently reading a book about Afghanistan," he said. "I'm watching a lot of war movies to get me in the mood, the mindset of the dangers and fear."

The mood much more emotional this time. This is the first deployment for the Staff Sgt in which he leaves behind his new bride, Sam.

"I'm more proud of him then anything and being his wife, and to say goodbye at this is a huge moment, and it means a lot," she said.

They've been married just under two months.

"I'm worried about how she'll be feeling back home, not knowing what is going on, knowing too much," Staff Sgt. Axelson said.

To help relieve emotions and worries, a group of volunteers has created a support network for the spouses and families of deployed members.

"We're going to continue calling them throughout the deployment, check in, see how things are going. If they need any sort of help or assistance, we'll try to help with that. If they need a listening ear, we'll just listen," said Heidi St. John, a volunteer.

A system keeping loved ones comforted during times of uncertainty. For The Axelsons, e-mails and Skype along with memories will keep them grounded.

"I know he'll come home, and then we're fine," Mrs. Axelson said. "Everything is good. Don't have to worry about anything.

Staff Sgt. Axelson is a former reporter with the Northland's NewsCenter. He'll use his skills as the unit's public affairs representative by sending back stories, photos and video of the mission.

You can follow the deployment online.

148th Fighter Wing Facebook Page

148th Fighter Wing Website

Kevin Jacobsen
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