What a day! I woke up at 4 AM in order to get to the base early and get a good parking spot. We were told they were expecting 6,000-12,000 people on the pier that day. I wanted to be early. I arrived a little over 3 hours before the ship was to arrive and I wasn’t the only one there. The first hour seemed very long, but it started to go a little faster once we saw the ship.
Here she comes. I am trying not to cry at this point. The noise on the pier is almost deafening. Shortly before this the ship blew its horn as if to say “Here we are. We are home.” You can’t tell from my picture, but the sailors are manning the rails. Right now they just look like little white toothpicks lining the ship.
Here she is nearly pierside. They are still manning the rails and you can see it a little better from this picture. I was screaming and crying. I was a mess.
Here she is pierside. The sailors have broke from the rails and now everyone is scanning the sailors on the flight deck looking for their loved one. It is very hard to tell who is who up there. It makes it hard since they are all in white. The phrase “You all look the same” never rings truer on homecoming days. AND I forgot my binoculors. That was poor planning, but I was excited. It doesn’t matter, though. Scott always finds me first. It is easier for them because everyone has a sign to let them know where we are. My sign said “Welcome home Scott!” Original, isn’t it? It was bright orange and he found me, so it is all good. Of course, he had to scan a couple “Welcome home, Scott” signs before he found me.
We have found each other now. It was a little easier this year because my kids were with him, so I looked for them. My daughter was smart and wore bright orange. It made it easy to spot them. I have an arrow pointing over my husband. He is the one waving. I would really like to zoom in on this picture, but I need to figure out how to do that. I had another sign for him at this point. It said “Get over here and kiss me!” He thought that was funny. I guess everyone around him did too. It would be over an hour still at this point before I would get to kiss him.
(I can’t figure out how to crop this picture right, so please excuse the sloppy picture. I just figured that other people didn’t want their kids on my blog, so I cut them out.) Anyway, we are waiting for liberty call when I took this picture. When the brow finally goes down for a ship there is a specific order for liberty. The first sailors off the ship are the ones whose spouses won the “first kiss” raffle. It is pretty special to win that. You don’t have to wait. Next, are the new dads. These are the dads that have never seen their new babies. I don’t care who you are, it is enough to tear your heart out. I saw one dad crying and the way he was holding his baby was like it he was a porcelain doll and he was going to break him. I about lost it there. Then, they call liberty for Chiefs and Officers. That is when my hubby gets to come off the ship. He didn’t take long. He looked so good. He is so thin! I grabbed him and I didn’t want to let go. I just held him with my face in the crook of his neck and started crying. I can not tell you how good it was to have his arms around me again. After all those months. After the 3 hours of standing on the pier. I just wanted to stand there and not let him go, but I had to. We had to get off the base. That is the the downside to homecomings. Traffic. Fortunately, we were off the base fairly quickly and on our way home. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of our reunion, but I was busy hugging him. It was a wonderful, emotional day. I will add this to my list of best days ever along with the other 2 homecomings that I have had.
If you would like to see more pictures and a video of the homecoming click on this link. Thank you all for your support and prayers for my family during this deployment. It was a long 7.5 months, but overall, the deployment had no big issues. As deployments go this was a good one. Thank you!