Master Sergeant Eric Campbell looks at the Blue Star Flag that he and his son, Senior Airman Noah Campbell (left), were presented with at the Hermon Fire Department on Wednesday. The father and son, who are both volunteers at the department, are deploying together with the Maine Air National Guard. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Master Sgt. Eric Campbell had planned to retire from the Maine Air National Guard this year but decided to extend his service another into 2022 so he can deploy with his son, Senior Airman Noah Campbell, to southwest Asia.

Both men work full-time as firefighters at the Bangor International Airport and volunteer with the Hermon Fire Department, which serves the town where they live.

They will deploy in about two weeks with the 101st Air Refueling Wing.

Master Sergeant Eric Campbell holds the Blue Star Flag that he and his son Noah were presented with at the Hermon Fire Department on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

On Wednesday, Hermon town officials presented the father and son team with a flag bearing two stars that will hang on the door of their home while they are deployed. An identical flag hangs in a window in the Hermon Public Safety Building on Billings Road and will remain there until they return.

“I was supposed to retire in June,” Eric Campbell, 45, said. “But I said that I would extend my commitment by a year if we could go together. It’s going to be a unique experience.”

There is one other caveat to their heading overseas together — they have to be back by May 7, when 21-year-old Mackenzie Campbell, Noah Campbell’s sister, graduates from the nursing program at Husson University.

Her father said they are due home in April and will be able to attend graduation.

It will be the fifth deployment for the elder firefighter and the first for his son.

“I don’t know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to it,” Noah Campbell, 23, said.

In presenting the men with the blue star flag, Hermon Town Manager Howard Kroll, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, said that it is “rare” for service members who are related to serve in the same unit and be deployed together because family members don’t usually perform the same jobs in the same units.

Noah Campbell listens as his father, Eric, talks about their upcoming deployment. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“We couldn’t be any more proud of them,” Kroll said. “They will not only be representing the community but their firefighter family as well. We wish them the best of luck.”

Father and son could not say exactly where they would be stationed but Eric Campbell could say they would be at a military base in southwest Asia handling many of the same kinds of emergencies they handle at BIA — medical, structural and aircraft.

“This is going to give Noah an opportunity to work and train with other firefighters from all over the country,” Eric Campbell said. “While overseas, he’ll obtain more skills and knowledge that he can utilize back here at home.”

Senior Airman Noah Campbell holds up the Blue Star Flag for his sister Mackenzie Campbell to take a picture. Noah will be deploying with his father Master Sergeant Eric Campbell (right) with the Maine Air National Guard and the tow were presented with the flag at the Hermon Fire Department on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The blue star banner tradition was started in World War I by a father who had two sons fighting in the conflict called “the war to end all wars.”

The elder Campbell said that he plans to give the blue star flag bearing one star that hung on his door during his last deployment to Qatar in 2018 to his  son, who wants to give it to his girlfriend to hang in one of her windows.