Family ties keep homesickness at bay for deployed family
By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher , 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 26, 2009
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- To say the Air Force runs in the family would be an understatement for the Horstmans.
Five members of the South Dakota family are in the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard, three of them currently deployed with the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron.
Senior Master Sgt. Lee Horstman, Staff Sergeant Joshua Horstman and Staff Sgt. Wade Horstman, all assigned to the 386th ECES, were stunned when they found out in August that not only were they all deploying at the same time, they would all be going to the same unit.
"It was a complete surprise," said Lee Horstman, 386th ECES Structures Section superintendent. "We got a call saying that we could possibly be deploying and two months later, we got our line numbers. By September, we knew we were all coming here."
For Lee Horstman and his son, Joshua, it wasn't that they were deploying together that was surprising, it was that they were deploying together again. The father and son had deployed together to Talil in 2003.
"We were together the first time, so we figured it would be like that," Joshua, a member of the 386th ECES Utilities shop said.
The Horstman military tradition started with Lee's father.
"It goes back to my dad and my uncle, they were in the military," he said. "My two brothers never got in, but all of their sons have gotten in so far."
Lee started in the Army National Guard before moving to the Air National Guard in 1992. In 1998, his son joined him, followed by Lee's nephew, Wade, 386th ECES emergency management logistics NCOIC, in 2004.
"He recruited us," Wade said, chucking a thumb at his uncle.
Lee said it wasn't quite that simple.
"These guys wanted all different career fields," he said. "And I said, 'civil engineers are looking for people,' so he (Joshua) decided to go into the utilities shop and he (Wade) went into emergency management."
Lee's other two nephews, Seth and Cody, are F-16 crew chiefs with the 114th FW at Foss Field, S.D. It's also possible that another Horstman will be joining the 114th in the future. Joshua and his wife, Angela, celebrated the birth of their first son a week before they left South Dakota.
"He's only a month old, so we'll see," Joshua laughed. "Time-wise this deployment wasn't the best because we had our first son, but we got to be together for a week for Christmas, the whole family, before we left. My wife is glad that we all got to go to the same place with my dad and Cousin Wade."
For Lee, the best part of deploying with his family is being able to look out for his son and nephew the way he's always looked out for the junior enlisted members under his command.
"My wife is glad I can keep an eye on them," he said. "It's a different experience of being far away from home with nobody you know. I worked with a lot of younger guys, twenty, twenty-five-year-olds, so they looked up to me for guidance. I'm glad to be able to do that for them (Joshua and Wade). I'd be more than happy to do it for anyone."
That comes as some comfort for Wade, who is on his first deployment. He said having his uncle and cousin with him makes a stressful situation easy to deal with.
"I'm glad they're here," he said. "Someone to talk to, relate to back home. When you get a little homesick, you talk to these guys. I like it."
The only downside the three see is the concern with the risks of a deployment.
"It's the worry about if something were to happen," Joshua said. "It's not like we see each other too much. We're in the same squadron, but we don't see each other that much."
Joshua said being deployed with his father and Wade is like having a piece of home here at the Rock.
"It makes you feel not quite so far away from home because your family members are all together," he said. "That's how I looked at it the first time, but we're still a long ways from home."