NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Naval Station Norfolk was fluttering with excitement Friday afternoon as U.S Naval aviators returned home after a nearly 10-month deployment.
“It’s been 299 days. It’s been very tough its definitely a roller coaster. I’m glad to have him home because when he was away it was like a huge piece of my heart missing,” said Tiara Davis, whose husband was among the group of Naval aviators that returned.
Davis’ husband was one of dozens assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, “the Nightdippers,” as part of Carrier Air Wing Seven aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
For Davis, time changed a lot.
“Our baby is 13 months now. He left when he was 3 months old, so that’s a huge difference,” Davis said.
While deployed, HSC-5’s helicopters conducted operations in the U.S. 5th, 6th, and 7th fleet areas of responsibility and the North Arabia Sea.
The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group team executed more than 1,285 sorties totaling 28,437 hours, to include 392 combat sorties encompassing 1,140 combat flight hours in direct support of friendly forces in Afghanistan and Syria.
The air wing successfully employed 42 precision-guided munitions with a combined weight of more than 70,000 pounds, destroying enemy targets and fighting positions in direct defense of coalition forces on the ground.
Overall, the aviators flew more than 4,000 hours around the world.
Dozens lined the flight deck as the eight helicopters landed in unison Friday.
However, it wasn’t just family and friends waiting for their loved ones. Some were waiting for their owners — like Winston the dog.
“We have possession of her black Russian terrier during the term of the deployment — actually we got him about a month before her deployment,” said Candy Newman, whose daughter is the executive officer for HSC-5.
Once those waiting got the “all clear,” they took off to search for their sailors.
There were plenty of tight hugs and big smiles to go around.
Tiara Davis’ husband Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyrell Davis got to hold his now, much bigger, son and has lots of plans ahead.
“We got to walk, we got to potty train, we got to shoot some jump shots we got to do everything,” Davis said.
Chandra Newman was also reunited with her furry friend.
“The greatest fear of ‘Will my dog remember me?’ — I think it took a minute but we’re good,” Newman said with a smile.
Newman, who was second in command, says there was great team work during the deployment.
“The Abraham Lincoln Striker 12 and Carrier Air Wing Seven did a lot of operations for the last 10 months. A very great, integrated team. Great leadership along the way,” Newman said.
They aren’t the only ones to have returned home recently.