Some family members were unnerved by their loved ones being sent to the Sea of Japan to act as a deterrent against North Korean aggression in the Sea of Japan.
Rear Adm. James Kilby said dockside that part of their mission was to reassure allies in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region, and “we probably did it too good because we got extended for a month.”
Samara Nigl said the “big safety risk” was when President Trump announced that “an armada” was en route to Korea. (The strike group was in reality headed to Australia.)
Family members aren’t allowed to disclose where ships are, so she thought making the location public wasn’t in the crews’ best interest.
Nigl delivered her newest child, Talia, in February while Alex was in Guam.
“He’s really good with the kids,” she said, so she looking forward to his help.
Nigl told how she felt when it she heard about the extended deployment: “That hurt; I cried.”
Dee Valverde, whose son was serving on the Vinson, also had her anxious moments.
“I couldn’t wait until he got here,” she said dockside watching her son and his wife embrace. “I was in tears all day. It’s wonderful.”
Hearing that the deployment was extended and that the Vinson was heading for Korea — “That’s what killed me.”
“All I did was pray, day and night, and on Facebook I asked people to pray for my son,” Valverde said.
At the end of each message to her son, she added, “May the angels surround you, your shipmates and your captains.”
Melissa Robledo delivered her 3-month-old daughter, Nevaeh (heaven backwards), without her husband, Nicholas, nearby.
Nicholas had requested an early leave to see his baby being born, but world tensions intervened and the leave was canceled, she said.
Like all other mothers interviewed, Robledo said she just wanted to spend time with him – and have him help with the kids.
Nicholas Robledo’s father, Sal, said deployments never get easier. “But I know that he’s protected well. I miss him. We are very close. He’s my hero.”
The Vinson and an escorting destroyer, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, left Jan. 5 and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain followed a day later.
The ships and their crews took part in several exercises with the navies of allied nations and provided a show of force in the Sea of Japan during a time of heightened tensions with North Korea.
“That’s what we’re trained to do — that’s what your Navy does every day,” said Kilby, who commanded the force. “I felt very confident in the flight deck, the air wing, the crews, the ships — I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Lake Champlain, which honors a decisive naval battle in the War of 1812, was involved in a non-injury collision with a South Korean fishing vessel that U.S. officials said ignored radio warnings and a horn blast during a time of limited visibility. The cruiser suffered a small dent when struck by the bow of the fishing boat in the May 9 incident.
The Vinson, named after a Georgian who served in Congress for more than 50 years, is best known as the vessel that received the body of Osama bin Laden after he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan in 2011.
The Wayne E. Mayer is named for an admiral considered to be the father of the Aegis air defense system used by naval vessels.
Two squadrons of helicopters that served aboard the vessels during the deployment flew in to Naval Air Station North Island on Thursday.
During the deployment 819,711 meals were served (including more than a million eggs, 10,880 lobster tails and 94,000 pounds of chicken), the Navy said.
More than 12,000 haircuts were given, 158,471 pounds of laundry was cleaned, 739 teeth were filled and 311 were extracted, and 8,499 sorties were flown.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
Vinson Families Fought Own Fears Awaiting Reunion was last modified: June 24th, 2017 by Chris Stone
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