NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hundreds of sailors came back home Friday night in Hampton Roads.
On Friday, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey and the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher returned to Naval Station Norfolk after a nine-month deployment.
Among those greeting their sailors in the crowd was Frank Lopez, who was welcoming home his daughter from her first deployment.
“We are here from Texas. We would’ve made it if it was rain or if it was shining. We were going to make it here today,” Lopez said.
While sailors searched for their family on the pier, Jaime Giles was there with children in tow to welcome their father home. It’s been a long wait for her, especially during the pandemic.
“Working from home, and kids going to school from home, I’m just trying to stay sane. It’s been hard, so we’re happy to have him home,” Giles said.
And sailor and first-time father Albert Riley Jr. met his son for the first time Friday.
“It’s awesome. Little bit nervous, you know, kind of have a tight grip on him … It’s unimaginable, like, I couldn’t even picture it until now,” said Riley.
The deployment, part of the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, took the ships over 35,000 miles each into the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation. After departing on February 24, the ships participated in multinational maritime exercises and operations.
Officials say the Monterey participated in a U.S.-led, bilateral maritime exercise Lightning Handshake 21 with the Royal Moroccan Navy and Royal Moroccan Air Force. In addition, it supported national security projects and participated in a Romanian exercise with nine other nations.
“I am so fortunate, so honored I have such a resilient crew who they all understand why they join the military and when called upon and to go fight and to do the nation’s business,” said Capt. Joseph Baggett of the USS Monterey.
The Mitscher worked to provide in-depth air defense, in addition to flying sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. They also supported IKECSG and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in support of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Definitely feeling good to be home. Definitely feeling good to get off the ship. And get some dry land underneath us,” said Capt. Tom McCandless of the USS Mitscher.