NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USNS Comfort hospital ship returned to Norfolk on Wednesday, just in time for the holidays.
Phyllis LaVane wrote an email to her grandson, “Coming home, coming home, you are coming home. Hooray.”
She and her daughter, Lisa Hill, welcomed home Corpsman Cody Gilman. Thousands of men and women, along with Gilman, returned after a two-month-long deployment.
For Gilman’s family, it wasn’t a guarantee he’d be home before December 25th, but now it’s official.
“Now, I got to get a Christmas present,” LaVane said jokingly.
The military sealift command hospital ship completed the Continuing Promise 2022 trip. The Comfort left in the middle of October.
The Comfort was in the Caribbean/Latin American region for a humanitarian mission, Continuing Promise 2022.
“Each one we did different things, but we did a lot of medical support to help the local area out the best we could. We did surgeries,” Capt. Bryan Carmichael, the Mission Commander for Continuing Promise 2022.
They helped thousands of patients during stops in Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
“Everyone came together behind the common goal of the great mission Continuing Promise allows us to do,” Capt. Kathryn Elliot, Commanding Officer of the Medical Treatment Facility, said.
Seaman William Marrero Torres, a native of Puerto Rico, was aboard the USNS Comfort and says being able to help patients while deployed was very special.
“Now, the turn around the give back what they give to me, so being there helping out people means something special. It’s great,” Marrero Torres said.
The homecoming comes just over a week after an incident while in Haiti. 19 crew members fell overboard while being transferred from a small boat to the Comfort, with two sailors receiving minor injuries.
For families of the USNS Comfort, it was a perfect holiday surprise.
“Finally, he’s home,” LaVane said.