NORFOLK, VA – Family members gathered on a pier at Naval Base Norfolk on Sunday morning to welcome home the crew of the USS Monterey, which had originally been scheduled to be back in port for the holidays.
The crowd gathered at Pier Two to say Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday and every other wish they could think of. After all, nine months ago they were saying goodbye.
"I am super excited. I cannot wait. I hardly slept. I’m overjoyed right now," said Navy wife Karelle Logan.
The first sailor to come ashore was granted the tradition of the first kiss. And there were many more after that. The Monterey crew had planned on a seven month deployment until hot spots like Syria arose.
"So when the first extension and the second extension came in, we just took it in stride because that's what most of the Navy is experiencing right now - longer deployments," said Command Master Chief Larry Linton. "We were ready for it. They performed well."
"Ah... I’m just glad it's over. I'm ready. Being a mom for five months by yourself isn't easy,” commented Diane Frederick. The Frederick’s baby, Joshua, was born in July.
The guided missile cruiser Monterey is all about ballistic missile defense. On this day, the crew was guided back to their loved ones in Norfolk.
"Oh, it's fantastic. I miss them. It's been a long nine months. It went by pretty quick, but these kids grew pretty much," said sailor Anthony Hamilton
"I don't know. I don't know how I did it. I really don't know. I took it not day-by-day I guess, but week-by-week," concluded Hamilton’s wife, Corrine.