Updated: Monday, 19 Oct 2009, 5:43 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 19 Oct 2009, 8:37 AM EDT
NORFOLK, Va. - There was a party on the pier at Naval Station Norfolk this morning. A welcome home celebration for the sailors of the guided missile destroyer USS James E. Williams.
For six months, the ship and its crew stretched their sea legs from the eastern shores of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. The mission was part counter-piracy and security, and part goodwill according to Commanding Officer Commander Paul Marquis.
"We spent three months in the Red Sea doing counter smuggling operations, boarding dhows and saying hello to fishermen," he said.
For the Manuel family, the deployment marks their fifth and final.
"It's kinda bittersweet. I've been in the Navy 18-and-a-half years. [I'm] looking forward to shore duty and retirement and spending time with my kids and my wife," says ET1 Kevin Manuel.
After months at sea, that's something all these sailors can agree with.
The ship left Norfolk on April 20th to conduct operations in the 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations, including the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf regions.
The USS James E. Williams has a crew of about 275 sailors.
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