Happy homecoming: War Eagles, Lightning Riders return to NAS Jacksonville

6 crewmen return as new fathers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a happy homecoming as families welcomed home the War Eagles of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 and the Lightning Riders of Mobile Tactical Operations Center-1 on Monday morning at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

The War Eagles and Lightning Riders had been deployed in Bahrain and away from their families for seven months.

Cmdr. Tim Campbell, executive officer of VP-16, said that despite COVID-19, they were able to successfully complete their mission.

“It feels great to be back," Campbell said. “The War Eagles and Lightning Riders have worked very hard.”

Six of the crewmen returned as new fathers.

“I gave birth when he was away, and he has not met our daughter yet. It was a tough long deployment with COVID, but we made it," wife Rafaela Morrison said. “She’s 3 months old.”

The Morrisons were able to stay in contact from time to time through calls, texts and social media.

“It’s amazing to have media like Facebook and Instagram because it’s like he’s still updated with everything,” Morrison said.

As an extra safety precaution, before getting off the plane, the crewmen were individually screened and had their temperatures checked before embracing their families. The families will now quarantine with their loved ones for two weeks.

The VP-8 Fighting Tigers will be relieving the War Eagles in Bahrain.

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