JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of families were reunited with their loved ones Tuesday at Naval Air Station Jacksonville as two squadrons returned from a months-long deployment overseas.
It was a homecoming that was six months in the making for many families, who were at the base watching and waiting for members of Patrol Squadron 45 to fly in aboard P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
Dozens of sailors stepped off the plane and into the arms of their loved ones. Brian Conlan was greeted with hugs, kisses and tears when he saw his wife and two sons for the first time in half of a year.
“I’m extremely grateful to live in this country,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful to have a wonderful family.”
“Just incredibly blessed and glad that the last six-and-a-half months are over and he’s home,” said Conlan’s wife, Sarah.
Patrol Squadron 45 flew back from Japan, where the nearly 300-member squadron was helping with military and counter-narcotics operations along the Pacific Ocean.
A few hours later, they were joined by sailors from Patrol Squadron 10, which had been on a six-month assignment in support of U.S. European Command.
As one can imagine, staying in touch with family and friends throughout an overseas deployment is extremely challenging. That’s something Lt. Cmdr. Sean Dougherty knows well.
“The 13-hour time difference makes it a lot tougher,” said Dougherty. “My wife is strong and ran the house while I was gone.”
His first order of business? Taking the family to Walt Disney World, though much has changed since the last time he saw them.
“They’re a lot bigger now,” he said.