MANAS, KYRGYZSTAN (February 1, 2014) News 10's Rachel Cox and Steve Fullhart from our sister station KBTX News 3 in College Station are on special assignment covering Fort Hood soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Texas service members are making the trip to Afghanistan, and along the way, have stopped at a transit center in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.
For Texas troops making the trip to Afghanistan, a transit center in Manas, Kyrgyzstan is usually the last stop before the war zone and often the first stop for the men and women in uniform who are on their way home.
One of the troops making the trip is Pvt. Joaquin Santos, 19, who’s deploying to Afghanistan for the first time with Fort Hood’s 151st Movement Control Team.
He recently married his wife, Justine, 20, who’s now, living on post, and as he waited for his flight, he used Facetime on his mobile device to talk with her.
She said the farewell was tough.
"It's really hard," she said.
"I had to tell him to go because I just kept wanting to hold onto him. It was really tough, but I'm surviving so far."
Santos expressed pride in being able to serve, but knew that he was going into an unknown situation.
"It felt good to be a part of being able to go to Afghanistan, be part of the last people coming out, saying that I actually got to go to Afghanistan," he said, "but it was also hard because I'm a private, and coming in, I don't know what to expect. Especially being newly married it's hard being away from my wife."
Since the start of the conflict, Manas has been a go-to place for thousands of service members, but the U.S. lease with Kyrgyzstan is up in July, meaning the transit center will be no more, and operations will move elsewhere.
"Until that moment, we will be moving on with our mission, getting our airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines through Manas," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Angelique McDonald, who serves in the public affairs office.