Military News

Monday, August 10, 2015

Deployed husband's wife finds strength within squadron

by Airman 1st Class Cary Smith
31st Fighter Public Affairs

8/7/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- A woman sits in a crowded conference room with her baby girl curled up in her arms and a six-year-old son on her lap. The room is filled with family members learning what their Airmen do at the 31st Munitions Squadron.

On the day Anna Bledsoe, wife of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Troy Bledsoe, toured the squadron, she sat through a brief and looked at munitions equipment without her husband by her side. He, like many of the 31 MUNS Airmen that day, was deployed.

Through eight years of marriage, Mrs. Bledsoe has discovered what helps her make it through re-locations and difficult experiences is a network of friends and community.

"My husband and I have been through a lot together during our marriage," said Anna. "Active spouses help provide a strong community during our time at a new base."

The Bledsoe's relationship began before he enlisted; and as high school sweethearts, the two realized they wanted to spend their lives together and start a family.

"We married after high school and we were soon off to our first base." said Anna. "We have been stationed in Arizona, England, Ohio, and my husband was stationed in South Korea for a year."

During that time, the family grew from two to four, which created new challenges by having to integrate themselves and their children to new surroundings.

Now stationed in Italy, Mrs. Bledsoe reflects on past assignments and the possibilities Aviano provides for her family.

"Italy is a new and different adventure," said Bledsoe. "I'm excited for us to see new places and immerse ourselves with other cultures."

She may be excited for new experiences, but the first deployment for her family has been challenging to adjust and overcome, especially for her son who depends on his parents for consistency.

"I wish my dad was here," said Bledsoe's son, Lane. "I'm happy we had my birthday before he left."

Lane walked outside with his mom after the briefing to get an up-close look at the type of equipment his father works with.

The 31 MUNS organized a family day for Airmen and families to better understand why they are in Italy and the importance of the squadron's success.

"Having an event like [family day] is important to show spouses what the Airmen do every day," said Master Sgt. Michael Clark, 31 MUNS maintenance armament back shop NCO in charge. "It is also important for the Airmen because events like this get families involved since they help carry a lot of the burden."

Anna stands outside with her little girl strapped to her and watches her son in the back of a truck where munitions are loaded for transportation. Finally for the first time, she is able to experience firsthand her husband's work.

Families finished the day with a cookout after they toured different work stations and previewed duties munitions Airmen provide.

"This is the first base I have been to that has allowed spouses to come and see the work being done," said Anna. "The spouses here are very active and worked with the squadron to make this day happen."

According to Anna, she has made friends with more spouses at Aviano than any other base. Having other families around helps keep her spirits up when weeks away from her husband seem long.

"Spouses here are really close and having this support is so good for my son too," said Anna.

Until Troy and other 31 MUNS Airmen return, family days and playdates are what the families have to look forward to each week.

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