After seven months at sea, Sailors and Marines aboard USS Boxer returned to San Diego Saturday armed with hugs, kisses, tears and quite a story to tell their families.
The Boxer supported Navy SEALs from USS Bainbridge earlier this year in helping to free Capt. Richard Phillips of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama after pirates hijacked it in the Gulf of Aden.
“What a great day to be an American and be able to do that. I mean, talk about a guy who was glad to see Americans and it was a great day for all of us, it was really something,” Capt. Mark Cedrun said.
The Commanding Officer of USS Boxer said the crew gave Capt. Phillips a standing ovation when he got on board and said he looked relieved. Sailors took him to get checked out and even prepared him a steak dinner. But that wasn’t what he wanted.
“He’s like ‘nah, I’d just like to take a shower’ and I said ‘well hey, how about a beer?’ So being the traditional Vermonter that he is, he asked for three so I gave him the case,” Capt. Cedrun said.
A lot happened in the seven months they sailed the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Some of the Sailors and Marines even got sick with Swine Flu. But that wasn’t the story they will be telling for years to come.
“Capt. Phillips’ rescue was a highlight,” Capt. Peter J. Brennan said.
But for now, those stories are put on hold as men and women fall into the arms of loved ones they haven’t seen since January.
“I get to see my brand new little girl, Morgan,” Lt. Nate Anderson said holding his 10-week old daughter. “This is the first time I’ve seen her. She’s beautiful -- absolutely beautiful. My wife did a good job while I was gone.”
It was an emotional homecoming, a successful mission and one for the history books.
“I feel very proud that we did our mission and completed it,” Petty Officer Linda Grant said. “It was exciting, I’m glad that we’re part of history.”