BILOXI -- Senior Master Sgt. Larry Jackson will be spending another holiday away from his family. And although today is Father's Day, the Jackson family knows Dad's absence means he's doing his job for the U.S. Air Force.
Jackson has been deployed since April. He was home at Keesler Air Force Base recently for a very special occasion -- the birth of his youngest daughter, Lia, who was born in March.
"She was born on March 7, I went to training the next week, came back home for a day and flew out," he said during a phone interview with the Sun Herald.
Staying at home
Laura Jackson and her husband have been married for 13 years. The "LJs" have three children: Leila, 9, Lilliana, 6, and Lia.
"It's hard enough having a new baby, but putting a deployment on it is a whole different thing," Laura Jackson said. "I have no family here besides the girls, but there is some support from the base community."
Larry Jackson, who has been deployed five times during his marriage, said it is hard being away from his family.
"It's hard because you can never get that time back, especially when they are that small like Lia," he said. "It's really tough and I know (wife Laura is) back home struggling, but she's been through this before and she's well equipped to do this.
Laura Jackson joked that her husband seemed to "have a pattern" when it came to being deployed with a new baby at home.
"He left when Leila was about 7 months old and he came back when she was about a year old and then he left when Lillian was about 2 months old," she said. "But they have had a few Father's Days together."
Larry Jackson said his wife is the real hero of the family.
"We're going to celebrate Father's Day on Sunday, but (Laura) is the one that stays back and keeps it all together and she's done such a great job over the past 13 years.
"This tour I will meet a milestone of 1,000 days deployed since 2006."
The new technology
Larry Jackson said he talks to his family on a daily basis, and that daily communication has made the separation more tolerable.
"I make sure that I have the time to call home and talk to them a couple of times a day," he said. "This has strengthened our relationship over the years."
He said advances in technology have also made the daily communications with his family easier.
"We use FaceTime to talk because it's so easy," he said. "This allows me to see the baby and for her to see and hear me -- I'm hoping this will help her to recognize me when I come home."
And when that day arrives and the Jacksons are reunited, he said he plans to do only one thing.
"We are going on a vacation," he said. "I don't know where but were are going somewhere together."