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Staff Sgt. Andrew E. Calime sees and talks to his wife, in Yuma, Ariz., with the help of video teleconference calls at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation building at Al Asad, Iraq, June 17. Calime, power line staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Marine Attack Squadron 513, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, uses VTCs because they are a way for deployed service members to not only hear the voices of their loved ones, but also see them.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

VMA 513 Flying Nightmares connect with loved ones in US

26 Jun 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

Marines here received the opportunity to see their families living in Yuma, Ariz., through a 30-minute video teleconference call June 17. The event, which was hosted at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Marine Aircraft Group 16 Headquarters buildings, afforded Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 513, MAG-16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the chance to do more than just hear their loved ones back home."The video calls are a way for me to stay in touch with my wife even though we are far apart," said Sgt. David K. Averill, aviation ordnance technician, VMA-513.A VTC is similar to a telephone call, except the parties on both sides of the conversation can see each other through a video display. "VTCs are better than a regular phone call because it allows us to see each other while we talk," said Averill, a native of Fairview, Okla. "Being able to see them makes all the difference in the world.""The call went great," said Staff Sgt. Dennis L. Burkeen, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of airframes maintenance, VMA-513. "Being able to see your family is as close as we can come to being with them."The family members back home are as excited as the service members are about the VTCs."The VTC was awesome," said Alesha, wife of Burkeen. "It was really great to let my kids see their daddy again."In addition to being a great way to communicate with loved ones, the VTCs are also a way to raise morale throughout the squadron."This call is something special," said Averill. "It is a good way to boost morale. Not only for me, but for my wife as well, and that means a lot to me.""I wanted to let my girls see their dad instead of just hearing my voice," said Burkeen, a native of Blue Island, Ill. "Pictures just don't always cut it. Sometimes you need to see the reactions and smiles on the faces of the people you love.""It was really fun to be able to sit down, see him and just let the girls talk to him," said Alesha. "I think it was much better than a phone call. With the VTC, he feels like a part of us and we seemed able to connect more.""This was my first VTC," said Burkeen. "I will recommend it to anyone who asks. It takes the distance away, it almost puts you right there with your family."