It was a time to embrace and a time to say temporary goodbyes for members of the 186th Security Forces Squadron and their families Wednesday morning at Key Field. In this time of preparation for possible war, the guardsmen were called up to duty at one of the most difficult times of the year to leave loved ones behind.
Sgt. Kevin McReynolds is a long time member of the squadron. He said he has his orders.
"We'll be securing some assets and protecting soldiers, sailors and airmen," said McReynolds.
Although the 186th is going to an undisclosed location, McReynolds' family says it's keeping the faith.
"It's gonna be weird without him here for the holidays, but we just trust in God that he will be safe," said brother-in-law, Doug Amos.
"We have faith he'll be back, safe and sound," said Barbara McDaniels, the guardsman's mother.
The bus taking the 13 guardsmen left Key Field for Jackson where they boarded a plane headed for another military installation.
Sgt. McReynolds has been in the guard for 16 years, so he's grown accustomed to leaving home to serve his country.
"Some are better than others, but I've never been on a bad trip yet,"
The 186th will be on active duty for at least 90 days, but if tensions remain high in the Middle East, the mission could be extended.
The holidays can be an especially hard time for servicemen and women and their families, but the McReynolds echoes a sentiment that many want to convey.
"I want to wish a Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends and a safe and happy new year," McReynolds said.