Families welcome returning USS Taylor sailors

Sailors gone for 7 months on frigate's final deployment

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

MAYPORT, Fla. - A lot can change in just seven months. Some sailors found that out first-hand Saturday as the USS Taylor pulled back into Naval Station Mayport for the final time.

"It doesn't matter how many times you've been out here and seen ships come back and the reunions with families. It's always heart-warming and I am thankful for these families to get reunited," said Capt. Wes McCall, commanding officer of Naval Station Mayport.

The ship, on it's final mission, has been deployed since January 8.   After spending time in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as the Caribbean, these families could not wait to be reunited with their sailors.

Chief Nick Burnworth got off the ship and within minutes dropped to propose to his girlfriend.

"It's been a long time coming and I'm excited to come home to my family and the woman I love more than anything in this world. There's no words to express it," said Burnworth. 

He said the plan has been in the works for months and thankfully family members kept it a surprise for her.  Burnworth's girlfriend said yes.

One sailor returned home to find out that his wife is pregnant, making it home just in time for her expected due date next weekend.  Another got to hold his son for the first time.

"It's really hard because you want to get to know your child, but you can't because you only see him on the screen. But the best moment is now," said Maurice Wilson Richardson.

"I'm just so happy that he is able to hold his child. It's been a long time 7 months and he's finally able to do it," said Tichina Wilson Richardson.

The USS Taylor is set to be decommissioned next spring, just in time for Naval Station Mayport to make way for the new littoral combat ship fleet which will begin arriving in Mayport in 2016.

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