A rain-soaked homecoming didn’t damper spirits for hundreds of sailors and their families Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk.
The guided missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill and USS Forrest Sherman spent eight months away from familiar surroundings and loved ones.
Petty Officer First Class Michael Jimenez tells WAVY.com he has been looking forward to seeing his four-year-old son, 22-month-old daughter and wife since the moment he left in March.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Jimenez, a fire controlman. “Coming home to family, that’s always good.”
Jimenez, along with 300 others on the Winston Churchill and 320 sailors on the Forest Sherman were deployed to the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea.
“The 242 days he’s been gone are all worth this moment,” said Caran Jimenez, who says she’s happy this was her husband’s final deployment before his retirement.
The smiles and hugs from thousands of people waiting anxiously to be reunited with their loved ones overshadowed the overcast skies and heavy downpours throughout the afternoon pier side.
“It’s worth the weather,” said Mrs. Jimenez. “I’m telling you if it were a hurricane we would be out here.”
Commander Paul Allgeier says he’s proud of his crew aboard the Winston Churchill, who traveled more than 64,000 miles and visited six ports.
“We worked with our partners and our allies to maintain security, maintain the peace and deter those who would alter that,” said Allgeier. “The crew did superb and it went really well.”
The Forrest Sherman traveled 36,000 miles and visited nine ports, including stops in Spain, Israel, Bahrain, Jordan and Italy.