Minnesota Army National Guard Reservists prepare for overseas deployment

Updated: September 20, 2019 01:47 PM

Hundreds of military families in Minnesota have known for awhile that a deployment would come; they just didn't know when.

For members of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, based in St. Paul, it's coming fast. And, for the Haynes family from Eagan, the deadline means soaking up every remaining moment together.

"Honestly, going into prepare mode makes time more surreal," said Deonte Haynes, an aircraft mechanic who works on Blackhawk helicopters.

Friday's ceremony at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, will be a special send-off for Haynes. He's been in the service for six years, yet this will be the first time he'll be stationed far away from his Eagan home, his wife and their five kids.

Haynes is part of the 700 National Guard Reservists bound for Western Asia in support of "Operation Inherent Resolve."

"I'm excited to go, excited to serve my country, it's nothing I've done before," Haynes said.

 As hard as it is on him, it's going to be even harder on his wife, Jamira, the one left behind to hold everything and everyone, all five of their children, together, for the next year.

"It's a very long time, especially when I don't know what this life looks like without him, I'm gonna miss my friend, that's my husband."

Ahead of his deployment, Haynes said he's been tackling the "honey do" list and building special projects for his wife.

"It's sad, because my kids mean a lot to me, I mean a lot to them and not seeing dad around will hurt them, I've been trying to spend a lot of time with my family and my wife," he said.

The couple's five children range in age from toddlers to teenagers, including Senioyah Haynes, who said of his dad, "he's kinda a cool dad, but an old dad at the same time."

The military family said they began getting ready for the inevitable months ago. They plan to stay connected by journaling, video conferencing and old-fashioned snail mail. Mrs. Haynes said dinner and bath times will be the most challenging as the sole parent. She plans to lean on other military families and wives, along with therapy for support.

"I don't think I've come to complete terms with that the absence means for me, I think I'm so preoccupied with them, taking care of them," she said.

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Beth McDonough

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