NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The thundering rumble of jet fighters and the sustained rotary roar of propeller-driven surveillance planes. Those were the prelude to hugs, kisses and tears Monday at two local bases.
A squadron of five E-2D Hawkeyes and four squadrons of FA-18s returned to Chambers Field and NAS Oceana, respectively, after a nine-month deployment.
The wife and kids of CMDR Chuck Cline raced across the pavement at Chambers Field to embrace him, his daughter literally jumping for joy.
“We got everything done like we were supposed to,” Cline said. “We got all the airplanes home and that’s all I can ever ask for.”
His son had counted the days since the family was together – 278.
The surveillance planes were patrolling the Mediterranean Sea and adjacent waters as part of the USS Harry Truman carrier group.
“We were just out there supporting NATO and all of our allied partners and happy to be back home,” said LCDR Michael Alexander.
The surveillance planes are a key part of awareness for the entire carrier group.
“The E2 specifically can see father and hear farther than the ships or the other aircraft. We just go out take a look around take a listen around,” said LCDR John Franklin.
Meanwhile, in other skies over Hampton Roads, FA-18s were touching down at Oceana.
“I’m so proud of all of them,” said Shari Underwood, whose son is a naval aviator. “They’ve all given up their time and their lives.”
After all the jet noise and cheering, one pilot’s wife is ready to chill.
“We’re just gonna sit by the pool. That’s all we’re doing,” said Rebecca Valdez. “We’re just gonna be quiet.”
“It’s phenomenal. We’ve been dreaming of this day for a long time,” said CMDR Matthew Enos. “We’ve had multiple extensions but we’re glad to be home now, and it makes it even more special when I can see everyone else also reunited with their families.”
“There’s nothing like it. It was incredible to see all the people waving at us,” said LT Mike Tallon.
The fighter jets and surveillance planes were part of more than 10,000 successful missions during the nine months at sea aboard the Truman.