JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a happy homecoming at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Friday when Maritime Strike Squadron 74, also known as the Swamp Foxes, returned home from a seven-month deployment.
The strike squadron left on Jan. 8, 2020, and the sailors set a record by spending 206 days at sea without docking because of the ongoing global pandemic.
On top of the record time on the sea, deployment in 2020 has been quite different for the Swamp Foxes because the sailor’s families weren’t the only ones worried this time.
“Normally when we’re on deployment our families worry about us, this time we definitely had a lot of concern for our folks back home,” said Cmdr. Dan Murphy, the commanding officer of Swamp Foxes.
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The Swamp Foxes’ 11 helicopters and 300 sailors took part in surveillance, strike coordination intelligence and reconnaissance operations, according to a release.
“Looking forward to coming home... that was what kept everyone going strong,” Petty Officer First Class Brad Hill said.
The USS Eisenhower made it to port Friday afternoon and three more ships return home Sunday and Monday.
“Thankfully, our squadron stayed strong, our families were strong and we’re home today, and we have a few more days to get the rest of the team home,” Murphy said.
As for what they missed most?
“Sitting down… and carpet,” Hill said. “I’m gonna walk on the carpet for about an hour or so with bare feet.”
2020 has been a year for the history books & these families have been missing a piece of their family since January ....— Danielle Uliano (@DanielleUliano) August 7, 2020
But the wait’s over & the #SwampFoxes have arrived home in Jax safe and sound 💕
Catch their stories tonight on @wjxt4 at 5pm. #ThankYouForYourService pic.twitter.com/eojc7O68zw