Dozens of sailors from the U.S. Navy are back with their families in Jacksonville after an eight-month deployment.
They were reunited with their loved ones at Naval Air Station Jax on Saturday – just in time for the holidays.
“We haven’t put up any trees, no decorations. No presents wrapped," Melanie Skiva said. "We're waiting for him to come home to do that."
Skiva and her four kids anxiously awaited the arrival of their husband and dad at the hangar Saturday.
Their youngest is just 10 months old.
He was one of several other babies at the homecoming who have spent the first few months of their lives without their mom or dad.
Amber Wright said her husband was home for the birth of their youngest. They’ve been counting down the days for him to come home. Luckily her military husband didn’t miss one of his child’s milestones.
“He’s right on the verge of walking. He’s held out until he’s home, so at least he’ll be able to see that,” Wright said.
When the MH-60R planes touched down, families ran out to greet their loved ones.
Some of them were overcome with emotion as they hugged and kissed.
The HSM-72 Proud Warriors were deployed aboard the Norfolk-based, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman for eight months.
It departed in April to support maritime security operations in international waters across the globe.
Loved ones said the time apart was tough, but the wait was worth it to have them home just in time for the holidays.
“I’m ready to get him out of here, put him in the car, take him home and never let him leave again,” Skiva said with a laugh. The sailors at NAS Jax were among 240 personnel returning to their families this weekend.