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The Mission Continues, Every Day Of The Year

An F-15 Eagle from the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville, Fla.

An F-15 Eagle from the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- "Always On Mission" is more than just the Air National Guard slogan. This holiday season there are numerous airmen from career fields such as security forces, alert pilots and maintainers, command post, and the fire department that are sacrificing time with their families so other airmen can enjoy this time with their own families.

Security forces and the fire department are essential in protecting our personnel and supplies, the alert mission is essential in protecting our shores, and command post is essential in passing along information and being the eyes and ears of the base.

For Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gunderman, security forces flight chief, fulfilling the mission is worth the sacrifices.

"It's important because we have a mission," said Gunderman. "We have to provide security for the base, for personnel, and for resources. Terrorists don't sleep and nor should we. Protecting our country is a full time job, 24/7."

Working during the holidays doesn't stop these airmen from spending time with their families. Whether they celebrate on a different day or invite their families to work for a small celebratory dinner, being in these jobs require a certain amount of flexibility, both for the military member, and their families.

According to Capt. Kevin Hand, alert fighter pilot, the pilots and maintainers will eat dinner every day together. While they cannot leave the base due to the strict mission requirements, the maintainers that live locally will have their families in and hold a collection to have a nice meal for everyone. While this will be his first holiday being away for work, he's making plans to spend time on a family vacation after the holidays.

For some, working with their fellow airmen is like working with family.

"Being away from family isn't too bad, celebrating here is like celebrating with an extended family," said Tech. Sgt. Sheena Wingo, command post controller. "We always do a Christmas party during drill weekend. During the actual holiday itself, we bring food in and we usually have Christmas movies playing. We also play Christmas music and decorate the command post; we have our own tree and ornaments to hang on it."

Sometimes Airmen have to make sacrifices to complete the mission. Even though some may miss out on being with their immediate family, the Airmen and their families understand the commitment of "service before self" and the need to support their brothers and sisters in arms.