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Pope Airmen Leave Worried Families Behind

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POPE AIR FORCE BASE — Fifteen airmen from Pope Air Force base left this week on a mission to protect personnel and aircraft in the Balkans; now all their families can do is wait and hope for the best.

Angela Clifton and her two little boys had to say goodbye to dad, Staff Sgt. Donald Clifton. Clifton will soon be a part of the NATO-led operations in Kosovo.

"It was pretty hard watching him drive away this morning," Clifton said, "but I know he's coming back so that makes it easier."

Larissa Pityer's heart is heavy as well. Her husband is going too, and he will be missing some of his family's most special moments.

"He's going to miss our second wedding anniversary. He's going to miss...all three of our birthdays. They're within nine days apart and he's never gotten to be here for one of his birthdays yet. He's really not very happy about it but hey, it's his job," Pityer said.

Both wives worry about their husbands' safety in the war-torn region and they say they will do their best to stick to their daily routines and not let the stress get to them.

The airmen are expected home in two to six months. Pope Air Force officials say that at the moment no one else is on standby.

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John McDonnell, Reporter
Doug Bricker, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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