Another goodbye and another combat tour.
It is what dozens of East Tennessee families are facing as they send-off their loved ones this weekend for a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. Eighty pilots and mechanics are packing 15 helicopters for the coming mission. After a few more weeks of training at another base stateside, they expect to be in Afghanistan by April.
"Deployment is a term you are very familiar with whether or not you get used to it is a different matter entirely," said 24-year-old Catherine Corkern. Her dad Glynn, at age 49, is about to embark on his fifth combat tour. The family will say their final goodbyes to the veteran helicopter pilot on Saturday.
"It's heartbreaking that day, the hugs, the kisses, tears it is rough," said Mr. Corkern who has served in both the Army and National Guard since he was 17.
"One of the times I came back and what I thought was my middle daughter comes running out of the house and I realized it was my youngest. I mean she had grown that much, and you don't get that back when you're done," said Mr. Corkern.
Catherine and her two sisters, who are both now in their twenties, say prayer helps them cope with the risks facing their dad overseas and the loneliness they face at home. Their mom said there are two ways to "do" a deployment.
"You can dwell on it all the time. You focus on the fact that he's not there that it is you and you are supporting yourself and the kids and everything else. And then you can do it where you focus on God. I've done it both ways. The first leaves you miserable and lonely, (the other) I would allow people to care for me and that was huge," said Susan Corkern who has been married to her military husband 28 years.
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In their on-camera interview, the family talked about the pain of saying goodbye, how they hope to stay in touch, and why the return from war can mark an uneasy time for a lot of families.
"Just trying to fit your family back together, it doesn't happen overnight," said Ms. Corkern.
She did add that living in East Tennessee has helped ease the burden of a long separation. Her neighbors have offered prayers, emotional support, and helped her with everyday problems that pop up around the house.
"Fix our fence and put up security lights just because they are worried about you. They told my husband before he left, 'you're not going to have to worry about a thing.' That kind of support, it just envelopes you and helps you feel safe," said Ms. Corkern with tears welling in her eyes.