NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The members of VRC-40, the “Rawhides,” with Carrier Air Wing Seven returned to their families at Naval Station Norfolk Monday.
The 65 men and women supported the USS Harry S. Truman by delivering parts, passengers and mail, including nearly 680,000 pounds of cargo. They visited 15 countries, including Portugal, Greece, Armenia and Djibouti.
The squadron arrived at their hangar at Chambers Field on two C-2A “Greyhound” aircraft. The carrier strike group’s planned seven-month deployment was extended by 30 days to accelerate the fight against ISIL, the Navy said.
“I cried a lot. I know that they have to do what they need to do to serve their country and to protect us, but it’s hard. It was definitely, you know, like a punch in the gut,” said Lauren Williams, who was waiting to see her husband, AM1 Craig Williams.
“The work, all that stuff’s easy, it’s just being away from the family,” her husband said, after they were reunited.
It was the third deployment for the Williams family.
“My family’s complete now, we can go home,” Lauren said smiling.
It was at least the fourth deployment for the Riddle family. 11-year-old Marlee said talking to her dad on the phone was okay, but not the same as being with him. Her mom agreed.
“It feels so great. I feel like I’ve been unbalanced the last eight months, like I’m sitting on a chair with three legs, so now I finally have that support, because it’s been tough,” Shannon Riddle said.
“Nothing beats coming home, that’s for sure,” said her husband, CWO2 Hatler Riddle.
Lt. Cmdr. Frantz Bien-Aime reunited with his wife and two young sons, who held a poster detailing exactly how long he had been gone, down to the second. It was 20,304,000 seconds apart, according to their calculations.
“It’s good to be back. I know it’s harder on them, than it is on me, because for them the time seems a lot longer,” Bien-Aime said.
More squadrons are expected to arrive home on Tuesday.