Crew of USS Thomas Hudner ‘thankful’ to be home for upcoming holidays

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WJXT

Family and friends eagerly greeted the sailors of the USS Thomas Hudner on Saturday when it returned from a short deployment to Europe.

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – More than 300 sailors on board the USS Thomas Hudner returned to the bright smiles of their loved ones on Saturday after seven weeks of deployment in Europe.

The naval warship has been training with allies and partners since Oct. 4.

For Intelligence Specialist Chief David Montgomery – it was his last deployment after 22 years in the Navy.

“It’s hard to explain the emotions,” his wife, Christina, said. “Doing this life for as many years as we have, there’s been a lot of adventures.”

Family and friends eagerly greeted the sailors of the USS Thomas Hudner on Saturday when it returned from a short deployment to Europe. (WJXT)

David Montgomery said his final adventure was a memorable one.

“It feels very accomplishing,” he said. “There was a lot involved in it, so feeling very thankful to be back.”

Other sailors and their families said they were just happy to be reunited in time for the upcoming holidays.

This was the second deployment for the USS Thomas Hudner. The sailors provided support as part of the USS Gerald R. Ford Strike Group, conducting training exercises that tested the Ford-class aircraft carrier’s capabilities through integrated naval-warfare scenarios.

Commanding Officer Shelby Nikitin said she’s proud of her crew for an outstanding mission.

“Being a part of the group that gets to support the Gerald R Ford, the largest aircraft carrier in the world -- that’s an honor to be trusted to protect her in the Atlantic,” Nikitin said.

Nikitin said the crew did everything they needed to on this voyage. They even completed their engineering certification.

Korean War veteran Thomas Hudner looks on during the christening ceremony for the future USS Thomas Hudner, a U.S. Navy destroyer named in his honor, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, Saturday, April 1, 2017.(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) (Associated Press)

It’s also a special week for the Hudner. The ship is named for Navy pilot Tom Hudner, whose true story is told in the recently released movie, “Devotion.”

Glen Powell, who’s best known for his role in “Top Gun Maverick,” plays Tom Hudner.

The movie tells the story of U.S. Navy fighter pilots who risk their lives during the Korean War and become some of the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.


About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.