Sailors aboard USS Jason Dunham return home for the holidays

USS Jason Dunham_1545406726450

The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) hits heavy seas while transiting the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 18, 2018. Jason Dunham was deployed to the U.S. 2nd Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Clay)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sailors aboard the USS Jason Dunham pulled into Naval Station Norfolk Friday — just in time for the holidays.

U.S. Navy officials say the crew spent seven months serving in Europe and the Middle East.

The Dunham joins the USNS Comfort — which came home Tuesday — and the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which returned last weekend.

“Homecoming is the best thing we do in the Navy,” said Commander John Hamilton, who is the commanding officer on the Jason Dunham.

Hamilton said the crew of around 300 were excited to find out they would be home in time for the holidays.

“It’s nice to be back in the U.S. It’s great our families are waiting on the pier, and it’s great that it’s Christmas! I can’t wait to spend time with my family,” he said.

While deployed, Hamilton said the ship provided maritime security in the 5th and 6th fleets of operations.

“You name it, we did it. We were ready at the nation’s call to do whatever we needed to do. Destroyers do a whole bunch of different warfare areas: anti-sub warfare, shoot Tomahawks, board small boats, escort high value through choke points. We did a lot and they did a phenomenal job,” he said.

It was the first deployment for many of the crew members, according to Hamilton.

The Jason Dunham conducted a number of exercises with the U.S.’s allies, including mine sweeping off the coast of Djibouti.

In September, the ship confiscated more than 2,500 AK-47s from a stateless skiff in the Gulf of Aden.

“It’s like getting pulled over by the police, where you ask for license and registration. They didn’t and that’s when we found all the weapons,“ Hamilton said.

GSM2 Joseph Eruemunor was excited to be home but says he’ll remember the experiences he made.

“I saw a lot, good memories, good people, good food,” he said.

Hamilton said after the holidays, the Jason Dunham will undergo maintenance and then be underway again in our area.

He commended his crew on a job well done.

“This is my fourth deployment and I’ll admit this is the best ship and best crew I’ve ever been a part of. While there are many that this was their first deployment, we were absolutely manned, trained and equipped and ready to go. I am supremely proud, very impressed and they did a great job,” he said.

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