JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. It may be Captain Bryce Graham s fourth deployment, and he may call it routine, but he admits it won t be like the rest.

This one will be harder, said Graham, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

I ve missed a lot of birthdays and Mother s Days and anniversaries, but this is the first Christmas I ll be away, said Graham.

Graham, a C-17 pilot, is part of an exchange program at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

He boarded a plane Thursday headed for the Middle East with 74 other Canadian and U.S. Airmen.

Over the next 60 days they will be transporting troops and equipment in and out of Afghanistan.

Back home, Graham s wife and two girls will spend the holidays with family on Vancouver Island.

It makes it more heart-wrenching, said Graham, but he told KING 5 News once he gets on the plane, he gets focused.

That hit homes pretty hard for me, said Graham, But there s the sense of purpose, the sense of mission that is quickly setting in as well.

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