Happy tears: USS Iwo Jima returns to Naval Station Mayport

MAYPORT, Fla. – The crew aboard the USS Iwo Jima returned home Monday to Naval Station Mayport following a seven month deployment.

Everyone had cameras rolling and watched through happy tears, all while counting down the seconds until their loved ones touched solid ground.

There were memorable moments -- one right after another, including a mother who rushed toward her husband, holding onto one child as two more of their children ran up on her right. Each delivered the biggest hugs to their father.

USS Iwo Jima returns to Naval Station Mayport on Oct. 11, 2021.

“It was indeed a fight, I can tell you that,” said Martin White, a sailor who was on board the Iwo Jima. “It was a lot of challenges I had to overcome, and I definitely came out a better man, a better father for my family.”

While he was gone, White’s wife, Brittany, had a fifth baby -- who was waiting at home to meet dad.

Brittany White said she’s learned a lot.

“Basically, be prepared for anything and definitely be prepared for changes,” she said.

Amanda Campos, also the wife of a sailor, said she’s also learned quite a bit herself.

“I learned a lot of patience, I learned communication, as much as we could. Communicate and to cherish the time that you do have,” Campos said.

Part of USS Iwo Jima’s mission was in the Middle East, and Captain David Loo, the commanding officer, couldn’t have been more proud of his crew who helped with the dangerous evacuation of our military and civilians from Afghanistan.

Loo says the USS Iwo Jima will be home for about a month or so, before the crew heads back out for some routine training.

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.