Hundreds of families received an early Christmas present when their loved ones returned home Monday morning from a six month deployment.
The USS De Wert and her sister ship, USS The Sullivans, both docked in Mayport this morning after a six month deployment just in time for the holiday.
The De Wert returned with about 200 sailors aboard, after a maritime security mission to the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa. The USS The Sullivans returned shortly after with an additional 250 sailors.
PHOTOS: Mayport homecomings
Carla Buckner and her son Jerome were one of the nearly 500 families reunited Monday morning. She said they are very happy about having their husband and father, Chief Petty Officer Jerome Buckner, back home for Christmas.
"His biggest saying is he protects you while you were sleeping," said Carla Buckner. "And that's what he's done this entire six month and I couldn't be any happier than I am today."
"It just wouldn't have felt right not having him here for Christmas because it's just the best holiday ever," said the Petty Officer's son, Jerome Buckner Jr. "I'm glad he gets to come back for it."
This was the last scheduled deployment for the USS DeWert. It is scheduled to be decommissioned early next year.