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Afghan tour unites long-distance couple

Sep. 19, 2008 - 04:42PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 19, 2008 - 04:42PM  |  
Naval aviator Lt. Larry Mahan and his wife, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer Capt. Vanessa Mahan, celebrate their first anniversary over iced tea Sept. 1 at Bagram Air Base.
Naval aviator Lt. Larry Mahan and his wife, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer Capt. Vanessa Mahan, celebrate their first anniversary over iced tea Sept. 1 at Bagram Air Base. (Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse / Air Force)
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Deployments usually take families apart.

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Deployments usually take families apart.

But for one newlywed couple, a deployment to Afghanistan was a time to be together after assignments put them on opposite ends of the U.S.

Air Force Capt. Vanessa Mahan, an F-15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer, and Navy Lt. Larry Mahan, a naval aviator in EA-6B Prowlers, celebrated their first anniversary Sept. 1 at Bagram Air Base, according to an Air Force news release.

The Mahans met during training at Pensacola, Fla., but it's been a mostly long-distance relationship since then. Capt. Mahan was stationed at the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., while Lt. Mahan was assigned to fly EA-6Bs with Electronic Attack Squadron 134 out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

"We make an effort to see each other as much as possible, which means lots of time in airports and lots of money spent on plane tickets," the captain said. "When we are both stateside, we've made a commitment to talk multiple times a day, even if it's just to say hi."

Earlier this year, both got orders to deploy to Bagram, but their tours would overlap only for a short time.

Capt. Mahan arrived first and learned that her squadron commander, Lt. Col. James Jinnette, would let her extend her deployment if she took on the job of deputy chief of plans for Bagram's 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

It was a deal.

The Mahans celebrated their first anniversary with pizza and iced tea.

The operations they've flown together, the time shared and the time apart give the couple plenty of stories to share.

"It's awesome. I can't wait to tell our kids about that," the captain said.

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