Last Edited: Tuesday, 02 Dec 2008, 11:55 PM EST Created On: Tuesday, 02 Dec 2008, 4:56 PM EST
NORFOLK, Va. - A ship of war, that at its heart, holds a mission of mercy.
For the USS Kearsarge and its Sailors, home never looked so good. It's been four months and long enough for these families who waited in the chilly morning air.
"Here they come Rubin, here they come," yelled one mother, clutching her 2-year-old son.
The deployment was a first for a Navy warship. Continuing Promise 2008 was a joint civil-military operation which provided humanitarian aid to South America and the Caribbean. For Senior Chief Doug Ferm, it was a change of pace to a typical war time cruise.
"We did a lot of construction, a lot of community service reach out, it was a lot of fun," said Ferm. But it was no less difficult to be away from home. "This could be my last deployment before I retire from the Navy, so I've been really, really looking forward to this." Kearsarge Sailors shared space within its steel hull with members of the Air Force, Army and Coast Guard. It required a quick language lesson between branches said Commanding Officer Captain Walt Towns.
"They're all talking Navy now...One of the Air Force guys left the other day and he came up and said goodbye shipmate." Rubin was finally off and running, yelling Daddy in his wake. Like most of the waiting loved ones he had his own mission in mind. It took only a few seconds to find who he was looking for in the sea of uniforms.
Navy personnel say this deployment was so successful, they are already planning another one next year.