Nearly 6,500 Sailors return from deployment ahead of the holidays

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NORFOLK, Va. - "Home for the holidays" has an extra special meaning for some 6,500 Sailors.

Service men and women from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) returned to Naval Station Norfolk on December 16.

Many families from across Hampton Roads were at the homecoming, despite the cold weather.

Amy Bell told News 3, "I just haven't seen him in a long time and I'm just like my excitement turns into nervousness a little bit."

"I might cry a few tears here and there, but I'm not sure," said LaShoniqua White "We'll see it depends."

This is after an eight-month deployment across the 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations, the Navy said.

Returning units of HSTCSG include flagship USS Harry S. Truman, commanded by Capt. Nick Dienna; the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1); guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60); and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Two Eight (DESRON 28), including USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

The Navy said HSTCSG deployed April 11 as part of the ongoing rotation of forward deployed forces to support maritime security operations and operate in international waters across the globe.

Commander Gene Black said, "Then we came home for six weeks in the middle of all that for a working port visit. It was like any deployment I've done and it was an absolute thrill and it really showed the flexibility and power of the US Navy Carrier Strike Group."

Captain Nick Dienna told News 3, "We operated in high seas in cold temperatures and in really high winds and you can imagine how physically demanding that is on the flight deck crews and the squadron maintainers who operate 10, 12, 14 hours a day."

Lindsay Napier said she has two young boys who have been waiting for their father to come home.

"They're daddies boys so it's been a little hard," Napier said. "They still think when we see them it's gonna be on the phone so it's gonna be a lot different this time so we're excited."

Many families said the homecoming is the best Christmas present they could have asked for.

"My husband and I we're gonna fly home to Utah to be with family for Christmas," Bell said.

Julia Goodpastor mentioned, "We're going back to Ohio to be with family for Christmas."

Nine aircraft squadrons of Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW 1) also returned December 14 and 15.

The squadrons returning are:

December 14

At Naval Air Station Oceana:
• The “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, flying F/A-18F Super Hornets.
• The “Checkmates” of VFA-211, flying F/A-18F Super Hornets.
• The “Sunliners” of VFA-81, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets.

At Naval Station Norfolk, Chambers Field are:
• The “Seahawks” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126, flying the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
• Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40, Detachment 1, flying the C-2A “Greyhound.”

At NAS Jacksonville, Florida:
• The “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Support Squadron (HSM) 72, flying the MH-60R “Sea Hawk.”

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At NAS Lemoore, California:
• The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets

At NAS Whidbey Island, Wa.
• The “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, flying EA-18G Growlers.

December 15

At Naval Station Norfolk, Chambers Field:
• The “Dragonslayers” of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 11, flying the MH-60S “Sea Hawk.”

HSTCSG's ships and aircraft conducted missions including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation and participation in numerous bilateral and multilateral operations and exercises to include exercises Lightning Handshake 2018, Baltic Operations 2018 and Trident Juncture 2018, according to the Navy.

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