MAYPORT, Fla. - Dozens of U.S. Navy sailors and Coast Guardsmen are back home with their families after a months-long deployment.
Some of their kids could hardly stand still as USS Tornado made its way to the docks at Naval Station Mayport Tuesday. They waited 78 days to see their dads.
The first kiss after USS Tornado docked at Mayport ❤️ pic.twitter.com/95iT5y70JB— Brittney Donovan (@brittneyANjax) October 15, 2019
“My daughter jumped out of bed, as fast as she’s ever jumped out,” Navy wife Kyla Childs said.
Katherine Punya was extra nervous. She was picked for the first homecoming kiss once the boat docked.
She said as soon her sailor was in her arms, the nerves melted away.
“It’s worth everything,” she said. “All the days waiting and waiting.”
The 28 sailors and nine Coast Guardsmen have spent 200 days away from their families so far this year, nearly seven of the last 10 months.
Travis Grantham’s youngest of three kids is almost two years old.
“I FaceTime her every time I get a chance in port, so she always recognizes me when I come home,” he said.
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During deployment, USS Tornado crew members helped seize 2,400 pounds of drugs, worth up to $32 million. They also rescued six people from a sinking boat.
“It was taking on water and at that point, we were at the right location at the right time,” Commanding Officer Brian Stueber said.
The sailors will have a few days off with their families and won't have to go back out to sea for at least a few months.
“Every time we come back into port that feeling of, ‘This is really it, I’m finally back,’” Grantham said. “I’m thankful, grateful to be home.”
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