MAYPORT, Fla. - The USS Hue City returned to port Monday morning after a seven-month deployment with the George H. W. Bush carrier strike group.
The ship, along with the USS Philippine Sea, which returned Saturday, helped support Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria while deployed.
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The last few minutes were the most excruciating Monday as the men and women of the USS Hue (pronounced “way”) City waited to be reunited with their loved ones at Naval Station Mayport.
They pulled into port with family and friends anxiously waiting.
Shannon Allen took a couple of deep breaths trying to control everything that comes with returning from a first deployment.
“I immediately saw my dad and my mom. Right away. It didn't take very long. As soon as we moored up, I saw them,” Allen said. “I don't know if they saw me, but my face got red. It's unreal.”
Allen said the deployment was a great experience, especially for someone her age.
“It was long, but there are no words to explain it. It was all a huge learning experience,” she said. “It's unheard of for me as someone so new to be able to go on deployment and be able to be the doc on board.”
Many of the men and women who returned said the next few days and weeks will be spent relaxing and catching up on all that they've missed.
For R.J. Garcia, that includes getting to know his nearly 5-month-old daughter, who he held Monday for the first time.
His wife, Chelsey Garcia, couldn't put her feelings into words.
“I honestly don't know how to even describe that,” she said.
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