‘Airdogs’ return to NAS Jacksonville for first time in 9 months

Sailors were greeted with hugs and kisses from loved ones as they returned to NAS Jacksonville this week. (Courtesy: NAS Jacksonville/Facebook)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was all smiles Thursday and Friday as the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70.2 “Airdogs” returned home to Jacksonville for the first time in nine months.

The HSM 70.2 left Jacksonville last June for Norfolk, Virginia, where they embarked on the USS Winston S. Churchill for their work-ups and deployment, according to NAS Jacksonville.

The Airdogs began their deployment in August, playing a key role in the 5th Fleet’s mission, including 14 trips through the Bab-el-Mandeb and eight more through the Strait of Hormuz as they escorted merchant ships safely through those areas.

In October, the ship and crew also took part in a remembrance ceremony for the USS Cole, which was bombed by terrorists during an October, 2000 stop in Yemen, killing 17 sailors.

The crew’s mission continued into early 2021 as they worked with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Advance Interdiction Team. Their assistance helped recover stockpiles of weapons.