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Serving through the season: Staff Sgts. Chace and Maria Morris

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Francesca Popp
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces News Team
Chace and Maria Morris met and married more than four years ago. This holiday season they are serving their country at a Southwest Asia forward operating base in support of the war on terrorism.

The staff sergeants are thankful the Air Force gave them the opportunity to deploy together, instead of being apart during the holidays. However, they wish they were at home.

"We miss being able to just be at home together, having our cups of tea and lounging around the house," said Chace, a Punta Gorda, Fla., native.

The 23-year-old 494th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loaders understand how important their jobs are. They know the munitions they load on an F-15E Strike Eagle help put more bombs on target, thus keeping the ground warfighters out of harm's way.

"They are depending on that airpower and munitions being released," said Maria, a Salinas, Calif., native, about why it's important they load all weapons correctly.

The sergeants, who are deployed from the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, have both been in the Air Force since August 2001. They are members of first unit to employ the Air Force's newest weapon's system, the GBU-39 small diameter bomb. They are responsible for ensuring the weapon is properly loaded onto the aircraft and reliable when it's employed.

"Knowing that I am possibly saving someone on the ground -- helping out the Army or Marines -- is satisfying. It all makes this deployment worthwhile," said Chace, a 2001 graduate of Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda.

Maria, a 2001 graduate of Everett Alverez High School in Salinas, agreed and said they are making the best out of the situation at hand.

"We have to stay focused on the mission and not be distracted by the mentality of just missing home, especially around the holidays," she said. "When Chace deployed the last time, I still couldn't wait for him to get home. I can understand what others couples are going through during the holidays. I feel lucky to be here with my husband "

The sergeants, like so many other Airmen deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Ecuador, South Korea and other hot spots around the world during the holiday season, know about sacrifice. Airmen are warfighters. They are highly trained, skilled and valued members of the interdependent force fighting the war on terror. They are always ready to do their job, no matter what day it is.

"We wish we could be at home with our families, but they understand the Air Force will send us to many different places," Chace said.

Nevertheless, the Morrises would prefer lunch with their friends back at their home station or traveling the countryside during the holidays. They know that it won't be long until they are back in the English cottage home.

"Even though our friends are at Lakenheath and our families are in the states, our friends have become like our family," Maria said.

The sergeants agree that being deployed together and looking toward the future is helping them through this holiday season.

"We are thinking about our trip to Scotland," they said of the two-week vacation that is planned for this coming Spring. "It doesn't matter what we do on the trip, the most important part is just relaxing together during well deserved time off."