BILLINGS - Many gathered at the Billings-Logan International Airport Edwards Jet Center on Sunday afternoon to line the runway with American flags to show their support as they sent their loved ones off for deployment.
Organized by the Montana District 3 VFW Auxiliary, the row of flags lining the cars was all for troops to see out their window as they departed the airport to head overseas.
Hannah Shaw and her three daughters were among the crowd to send off their husband, and father, on his first Army deployment.
“We’ll miss him a lot,” Hannah said.
Addie Shaw, 9, shared that she was feeling sad to see her father go.
“It’s really hard being away in the military because you’re missing so much in life without somebody that you really need,” Addie said.
As sad as they are, they also felt excited for him and the example he is setting.
“Being in the Army was his dream since he was a little kid. A very, very little kid. But I’m actually kind of glad for him because it was his dream. Dream big,” Avery Shaw, 7, said.
Steve Heimbichner joined the crowd but wasn’t there to send off a loved one — instead, he was there for the families.
His son just got back from deployment, so he knows firsthand how these families, like the Shaws, are feeling.
“I’m up here today to just let them know I’m behind them 100%. And we’re here to help support them,” Heimbichner said. I understand the price that gets paid, it wasn’t just him paying the price of going, but his whole family.”
As the plane took off, the Shaws shifted their focus toward a homecoming, as they can’t wait for their hero to return.
“We look forward to him coming home,” Hannah said.