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Father. Warrior. Airman.

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A father picks up his combat gear; his daughter clings to his shoulders and her tiny face crinkles in confusion as he sets her down gently, then looks to his wife and chokes on the tears he hides as he turns away from his newly-formed family. This was a scene the family had become very familiar with.

With a high-operations tempo, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen must maintain readiness for a steady flow of deployments.

Tech. Sgt. David Hines, 20th CES planning manager, has deployed to seven different locations and been on 17 temporary duty assignments, allowing him to see the world and fine-tune his career skills. From his deployments, he learned to be ready at a moment’s notice and adopt the “fight tonight” mindset.

Airmen at the 20th CES are well aware every cycle they are eligible to deploy and, odds are, when their bucket is open, they are going downrange to support the mission.

“It has never been easy leaving the family for deployments,” said Hines. “My wife is truly the backbone of the family. I only have to do my job away from home and take care of myself. She has raised our kids while having her own career for the past 18 years. Technology has made being away a little easier, but there were several deployments I was in austere locations and communication was a rare opportunity.”

Jessica Hines, David’s spouse, said the second deployment was the most challenging for her as their daughter was just born, so Jessica had to not only adjust to motherhood but also how to temporarily be a single parent.

“We are a very close family and I believe that is what has gotten us through the years of separation,” said Hines.

Even though deployments are difficult, their family understands the sacrifice is not in vain. Without 20th CES Airmen, the roads would be littered with potholes, the heaters would stay broken and leaks would go unattended. Hines ensures deployed facilities are maintained to support his deployed brothers and sisters.

Back home, Jessica keeps the family together and nurtures their growth.

“When I find out he is being deployed, I let my network of friends know,” said Jessica. “We have a son with cystic fibrosis, so when my husband is gone, the part he plays in helping me has to be filled.”

Jessica said the biggest challenge they have when her husband is deployed is communicating timely about their son’s health.

“During the deployment my son was in and out of the hospital,” said Jessica. “The hardest part was trying to make sure my husband knew what was happening and finding a place for my daughter to stay while I was in the hospital with my son.”

While the Air Force demands a lot from Airmen, it also ensures Airmen and their families are taken care of.

“Without the military I do not know what our family would have done,” said Hines. “We have been able to stay here my entire career for medical reasons and have doctors that know our son’s situation.”

While a family may perfect the process, there are still challenges with every deployment.

“My kids are all older now and leaving is still pretty hard on them,” said Hines. “My wife is there to bridge that gap or at least help them along, but it is never easy. My wife and I understand the responsibilities we take on while being in the Air Force.”

After 17 years of service, the Hines family has grown closer together and cultivated strength through the support of the Air Force. While Hines enjoys serving, he looks forward to his retirement in three years where he can devote all of his time to family.

“I’m proud to have learned from and served this great country,” said Hines.