MAYPORT, Fla. – More than 4,500 sailors and Marines returned home to Naval Station Mayport on Thursday after a six month deployment overseas.
Families from all over the U.S. traveled to Northeast Florida to greet their loved ones. The USS New York docked Thursday afternoon, while the USS Iwo Jima arrived early in the morning.
Because of foul weather, family members and friends were moved onto the ship to be reunited with their loved ones. They included a grandfather that served in the Korean War, who got up from his wheelchair to welcome his grandson home.
"I am just so proud of him," the Korean War veteran said. To get to share this moment -- words just can’t describe it."
Mothers, who hadn't been able to comfort their children for months, were welcomed home with open arms.
Some excited new dads saw and held their babies for the very first time.
"I was really nervous. I can't explain it," a new father said.
The men and women aboard the ships were conducting maritime security and crisis response operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
A third ship that was deployed, the USS Oak Hill, returned to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia.