USS Stennis finally sails home after deployment

Addison Carter came a long way on Friday morning to see her father — one of the more than 3,000 sailors aboard the USS John C. Stennis as it finally arrived at its homeport in Bremerton.

“We’re going to Sea World," the five-year-old said. "It’s fun."

For Carter’s girlfriend Kristine Smith from Arizona, the Stennis’ arrival at around 9:30 a.m. was a welcomed end to seven and a half months of waiting.

“It’s really exciting, and I just can’t wait to see him and for him to see his daughter,” Smith said.

Carter’s mother, Jina Carter from Jacksonville, Fla., was also in the crowd waiting for her son to arrive.

“He followed in his father’s footsteps and this is the first time we’ve come to see him in Bremerton,” Jina Carter said. “It’s different for his father to see him come in.”

The Carters weren’t the only ones who traveled thousands of miles across the country for the Stennis’ homecoming. Steve Broadfield and his wife Eileen along with daughter Jennifer Geib, son-in-law Steven Glieb and their three children, Liam, Griffin and Cole, made the trip from Connecticut to see Lisa Broadfield’s arrival.

“It’s very exciting and emotional,” Steve said as two-and-a-half-year-old Cole sat propped up on his shoulders to see the aircraft carrier slowly make its way to the pier. “Bremerton’s been great.”

Along with those waiting for their sons and daughters to return home, several sailors got to see their newborn children for the first Friday as 22 new babies were scattered throughout the crowd.

“It’s very emotional,” said sailor Matthew Gossett as he held his three-and-a-half-month old daughter Charlie Mae for the first time. “She’s so beautiful. It’s been a long wait.”

Gossett’s wife Kristen said she was just happy to finally have her husband home after the long deployment.

New father D.J. Shamblen lost sleep over the excitement of seeing his four-month-old son, Cade, for the first time.

“I’ve been up all night waiting for this,” he said. “It’s so amazing.”

Shamblen’s wife Brooke said she’s glad her son and husband can finally spend time together.

“I don’t care if he does help around the house,” she said. “He and his son can be together.”

Although Moira Gibson was waiting for her husband, Kyle, along their two older children, Friday marked the first time Kyle got to hold their four-month-old son Hayden.

“It’s great,” Kyle said. “It looks like he’s really doing well.”

While there were plenty of hugs and kisses to go around during the homecoming festivities, Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, commander of the USS John C. Stennis Strike Force, said he is proud of the way his sailors and Marines performed admirably throughout the seven-and-a-half-month deployment.

“We left here seven and a half months ago and sailed straight into the Persian Gulf,” Quinn said. “We performed intense combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Those operations were in direct support of forces on the ground, and the entire group performed at a very high level, he said.

“The performance of the strike group was spectacular,” he said.

After a 30-day stand-down period, the ship will spend six months receiving any necessary maintenance and repairs before ramping up for another possible combat deployment, Quinn said.

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