MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, NC, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - The parking lot in front of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365’s hangar was full of families posing for one last photo, children reaching for their parents, and lovers embracing each other and not wanting to let go.
The Blue Knights left behind their loved ones to deploy to Afghanistan in an event outside their hangar, Jan. 6. Although some people gave in to tears, the Marines remained tough, knowing the separation is necessary to do their job.
Capt. Ryan E. Benes, VMM-365 MV-22B Osprey pilot, said their deployment is to support the Marines on the ground in Helmand province by transporting supplies and personnel wherever they need to go.
The pilots and crew chiefs have been training for this deployment ever since they knew they were going, said Benes. The training consisted of practicing flights the squadron anticipates performing in theatre, including confined area landings and supply missions.
Benes was better able to prepare himself and others for the deployment because he had deployed to Afghanistan once before, and said it has given him valuable experience.
The squadron has many Marines going on their first deployment, including Lance Cpl. Danny A. Schumacher, VMM-365 Osprey crew chief. He joined the squadron last year and has continuously learned more about his job in order to prepare for the deployment.
During the going-away event outside the hangar, Schumacher said goodbye to his father, Dennis, and his wife, Courtnie.
Dennis said seeing his son deploy makes him proud and sad at the same time.
“When he first told me he was joining the Marine Corps, I did whatever I could to try to talk him out of it,” said Dennis. “Now, I’m proud of him.”
Courtnie said the same is true for her. However, the pride doesn’t come without concerns for his safety.
“My biggest fear is him coming home in a casket,” she said.
To keep her mind off of it, Courtnie said she will keep busy finishing her associate’s degree in applied science and starting a program in dental hygiene back home in Bentonville, Ark.
Hours before Schumacher left, he and his wife finished packing their belongings and putting them in storage. Later, the two spent their last moment hugging and holding back tears, said Courtnie.
The moment lasted until a little before 2 p.m., when a voice yelled, “1400! Get inside for lockdown!”
Then, the families and friends of VMM-365 watched as their loved ones disappeared into the hangar to await their departure.
Although they just left, Courtnie said she can’t wait for her husband to return.
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This work, Blue Knights deploy to Afghanistan, by SSgt John Suleski, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.