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Military families meet for a pre-deployment retreat



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EDEN -- This is a very important weekend for a group of military families from Hill Air Force Base. They are gathering to enjoy one another's company and prepare for a big deployment.

The serenity of Wolf Creek Resort sets the scene for rest and togetherness. Nearly 200, all members of military families, are spending the weekend at a special pre-deployment retreat.

This is the third such weekend for the Norwoods; Capt. Herman Norwood, battle manager with the 729th Air Control Squadron, goes to Iraq soon.

"It allows us to kind of reassess our relationship," Herman said. "And just knowing that going off to a six-month deployment, that things are OK."

Herman's wife, Shamona Norwood, said, "The one thing that we work on is communication. It's not always so easy when they're hundreds of thousands of miles away."

"I'm used to him being at home watching the game," said 8-year-old Natassja Norwood. "So, it's really sad for him to be gone for a whole six months."

The families are counseled to have fun, but the adults are required to attend relationship meetings aimed at preserving marriages during deployments.

"It was really nice because it helped you to understand your spouse better, and they even talked about your children a little bit," said Tyrena Dilley, whose husband is deploying.

While the parents are meeting, their children are being taken care of in a separate play area.

"We drop the kids off, and this is weird. We're alone. They're not sleeping, somebody's actually watching them. We can just do whatever we want to do," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Dilley, chaplain assistant with the 75th Airbase Wing.

After three years of these retreat weekends, organizers feel confident they are helping families stay together no matter where in the world one member is serving.

The retreat sponsors are hosting a Jon Schmidt concert Saturday night at 8:00 for the families and to raise money for the Wolf Creek Foundation Charities.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

Carole Mikita

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