250 sailors return home to families
As 250 proud sailors pulled into Naval Station Mayport on Tuesday morning, it was hard to hold in the emotion.
It was the moment the sailors' families have been waiting for since their loved ones left on Jan. 17. They've been praying their heroes would return home safe.
"It means a lot to me. I missed him so much," said Ali Rooney, whose father was deployed.
Laura Bylls' husband was deployed 30 days after they got married.
"It was hard, really hard," she said.
Amber Seekins' husband had never seen his baby girl.
"I didn't realize how emotional it was going to be until I saw him up there, and now I'm drenched in tears," Seekins said.
The USS Simpson traveled 153,000 nautical miles to train with with foreign navies off the coast of Africa. The sailors also participated in community relations projects, like painting churches and cleaning up playgrounds.
They were gone for six months, which was really tough even for Natalie Tucker, a Navy nurse who's been married to her sailor for 10 years.
"It's an everyday thing," she said. "Wake up, go to work, come home, take care of three kids and just repeat, repeat, repeat every day."
The sailors got off the ship and had the traditional first kiss, the first hug, and the new daddies.
Jacob Seekins got to see his daughter for the first time. Ali Rooney all but tackled her dad.
It's not an easy life for sailors and their families to lead. They go through a lot and miss a lot, but they say it's a life they're proud of and there's nothing like coming home.
Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.