NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More than 6,000 sailors with the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group returned home to friends, family and loved ones Wednesday after eight months overseas.
Wednesday’s homecoming began with the arrivals of the USS Gravely and USS Anzio. The Gravely pulled in to port shortly after 9:30 a.m.
10 On Your Side’s Erin Kelly streamed the USS Gonzalez and Gravely’s arrivals live on Facebook, as excited families greeted the sailors.
The homecomings included the return of the USS Harry S. Truman, USS Anzio, USS Bulkeley, USS Gonzalez, USS Gravely and USNS John Lenthall.
Kathy Lopez, whose husband was on the Gonzalez, was waiting to introduce their 6-month-old son to him.
“It’s everything. There’s no words for it. Just really emotional and just ready for him to be home,” she said.
The Truman strike group departed from Naval Station Norfolk in November, and was originally supposed to return in June. However, the deployment was extended by 30 days.
Maria Mullins was waiting among thousands in the crowd for her son to get off the Truman.
“He has missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, his 26th birthday,” she said.
Pete Tamburro of Philadelphia held a home Philadelphia Flyers jersey to greet his son Dominic, as he did in 2014 when WAVY News talked to him at previous Truman homecoming. On Wednesday, Dominic was standing on the Truman’s flight deck waving the away Flyers jersey his dad had sent him. “It’s like Christmas time, when you were a little kid and you can’t sleep and your mom checked up on you. It’s Christmas time again for a 55-year-old man who’s so proud of his son,” Tamburro said, fighting back tears.
MMN2 Kaleb Goessl was one of the first sailors off the carrier. He finally had the chance to meet his new son, Flint.
“He’s five months…Ecstatic. It’s been a long time waiting,” he said.
Aircraft were launched from the Truman during its deployment as a part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an international mission to battle the Islamic State in the Middle East.
The Truman’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Ryan B. Scholl, said he felt like a proud father because of what the men and women did over eight months.
“We showed tenacity to destroy our enemy and bring solace to our partners and coalition as we worked all around the 5th fleet and the 6th fleet areas of responsibility,” he said.