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Soldier ships out for 5th time

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By Jesef Williams

INDIAN LAND - Military deployment has made life tough at times for Chris Fite and his wife, Amy.

Chris, a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, has just gone overseas again for his fifth tour of duty in five years. He left last week for Qater, Afghanistan, where he will work in a squadron that secures airplane runways.

He expects to come back in May.

Amy, an Indian Land native, says it's difficult having a loved one gone so often. The deployments create inconvenience, and when Chris is gone, she worries all the time about his safety.

"People say it gets easier, but it doesn't," Amy said about her husband's multiple deployments. "You never get used to a loved one being gone."

Chris, who's stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, has been in the military for six years. He was first deployed in January 2003 for about two months to a location he isn't allowed to disclose.

Chris, 26, was sent to Bagram, Afghanistan, twice in 2004 - in October and again from December to February 2005. He was then deployed to Bagram in 2005 from May to September.

"It's hard knowing you're not going to be with your family," said Chris, a native of Wheelersburg, Ohio. "But I realize what my job is - to protect my friends and family."

In 2004, Chris met Amy, who was attending the College of Charleston at the time. They hit it off from the beginning, and the relationship grew to the point where they began planning a wedding the following year.

Because of Chris' deployment that year, the couple decided to hold off on the wedding until October 2005. They had considered getting married earlier that year.

Because of his tours of duty, Chris wasn't able to attend Amy's graduation ceremony from the College of Charleston and will miss her graduation from nursing school this year.

"Right now, it's stressful and difficult to leave my family, but I feel privileged (to serve)," he said. "I feel honored."

In past deployments, Chris was part of a tactical group that made sure the C-17 airliner had the materials it needed. Chris has also helped stabilize areas of Afghanistan through various humanitarian missions.

"We're actually helping people," he said. "We're starting schools. We're freeing people from fear and persecution. War is hell. It always has been, but good things come out of it."

When Chris is overseas, he tries to speak with Amy at least once a week. They also communicate through letters and e-mail.

Amy cherishes each and every contact and says it's hard to explain the excitement she gets every time Chris comes home. The couple was glad to be able to spend the holiday together with family here in Indian Land before Chris left for Afghanistan on Dec. 31.

Amy is the daughter of Donna and John McClennen of Indian Land. She graduated from Indian Land High School in 2001.

"You don't know what it's like until you go through it," Amy said about being a military wife. "When you come home to an empty house, that's when it really hits home."

The couple wants to have children one day and prays for the day when their life will be more stable. But Amy says she will support Chris in whatever he does - whether it's in or out of the service.

"We will have a family and we will make it through," she said.

Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or jwilliams@thelancasternews.com