UPDATE 3/13/12 @ 5:21 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The third and final group with the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing headed overseas to serve in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, 20 to 25 men and women left from Yeager Airport in Charleston.
"It's always difficult to leave. You've got friends and family you're not going to see for awhile. You know, no one can get used to that," Tech Sgt. Charles Kittinger said.
This will be Kittinger's fourth time heading to Afghanistan. For his mother, it feels like many more.
"I've seen it too many times," Debbie Kittinger said. "It's been more than four because of the other deployments he's gone on. I'm used to it. I know he's got a job to do."
While in Afghanistan, the men and women of the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing will work on operations, aircraft maintenance and logistics. Their main goal is to move troops and cargo.
However, for the families of some who are heading back for a third or fourth tour, the time apart is never easy.
"This is a terrible part of the job having to send young men and women off, separate them from their families and go off to distant lands to defend this nation," Major Gen. James Hoyer said.
The airmen and women will be in Afghanistan is support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I don't necessarily go for myself. I go for my buddies, to watch over them," Hoyer said. "It's engrained in our system. I told the folks earlier it's a part of our DNA. The West Virginia National Guard, we trace our roots back to one of the seven original militia companies of the Continental Army. That's who we are and what we're about."
In total, the 80 to 90 men and women with the 130th Airlift Wing will be in Afghanistan for four months.
About 20 to 25 guardsmen left from Yeager Airport in Charleston on Tuesday.
The group will be gone for about four months for a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Two other groups left last week. In total, about 80 to 90 guardsmen from the 130th Airlift Wing will now be in Afghanistan for this deployment.
Many of the guardsmen tell WSAZ.com this is their third or fourth deployment overseas, but it never gets easier to leave their families.
It was an emotional day for Sherry Durst and her husband of two years, Staff Sergeant James Durst.
"Just the thought of him not being there," Sherry said as she described what the hardest part about James leaving will be. "Not coming home to him, not sharing the day to day activities."
Durst is heading to Afghanistan on his first deployment as part of the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing.
"Looking forward to it," said Staff Sgt. Durst. "A little nervous, a little excited but looking forward to it."
He's not alone. Durst is among 40 other men and women heading overseas, Sunday, on a four month deployment. The group will join 35 other airmen who already deployed earlier this week and a third wave leaving in a few days.
"This is the hardest point for the soldier or the airman," said Major General James Hoyer, Adjunct General, West Virginia National Guard. "Is the point which they have to make that break from the family and go about doing their business and their job."
According to Senator Joe Manchin, who stopped by to see the airmen off, it's a job well done.
"I've been there a couple times, in Afghanistan, and every time I go, the commanders of any base always seek me out to tell me how proud they are to have a West Virginian serving," he said. "Now, they don't have to do that. They could just say, 'yeah they're doing a great job.' But they really make an effort to tell me how good, how well trained our troops are and that's pretty special."
For Sherry and James Durst, they said it's thoughts, prayers and their love for each other that will get them through their first deployment.
In total, about 100 airmen from the 130th Airlift Wing are being deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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