MAYPORT, Fla. - Hundreds of sailors are home with their families after being deployed for nearly six months.
The USS Klakring and more than 200 sailors stationed onboard returned to Naval Station Mayport Saturday after duty in the Caribbean and South America.
For the sailors, embraces with family members were months in the making. They returned to familiar faces, and in John Weitcel's case, a new face. This was the first time he met his son, Caleb.
"It's my new son, my other son [with] my beautiful wife. I'm just glad to be home. I can't wait to spend more time with him," said Weitcel.
Family and friends lined the gates, and waited anxiously, with posters and signs for the ship to arrive.
"Oh, we're super excited because we've only gotten to talk to him on the phone like one time since he's been gone, so we're very excited..." said Tara Reed, who was anticipating her husband's return.
IMAGES: Klakring's final homecoming
Janet Hall married her husband just weeks before he deployed, and said for newlyweds, the separation is tough.
"We email pretty much daily, but I still feel like the communication is pretty limited. So it's been really hard," said Hall.
The Navy wife said that's what made seeing him so special. Many families said they have big plans for the sailors to celebrate their return home.
As for the USS Klakring, its sailing days are over. It will be decommissioned next year. The ship's commander said he couldn't be more proud.
"When I took command two years ago, I asked the crew to go out on top and save the best crew for last and they've delivered at every turn," said Commander Darrell Canady.
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