This following is the first blog post in our Homecoming series. Contact us if you would like to be a guest blogger and submit your Homecoming story.
I’m a 43 year old Submariner’s wife writing my first blog post and yesterday I experienced my first homecoming. Although my Sailor and I have been together for 5 years and he had been out to sea plenty of times, I had never experienced a submarine homecoming. I have to thank the CO, had he not appointed me as Ombudsman I would probably still be ignorant of this incredible experience!
Yesterday I was blessed to witness a magnificent sight; the homecoming of the USS Missouri (SSN 780). I stood in awe at the shore line and watched her sail break the water as she rose majestically to continue her journey to the sub base on the surface of the Thames. Her topside lined with Sailors, standing with their hands behind their backs. Her sail filled to capacity with Officers and pilots as they made their way home. The formality and quiet dignity of their postures impressed and moved me beyond words.
As we raced to the next viewing point, Paul’s Pasta, I could barely contain my excitement, awe and anger; directed firmly at my Sailor for letting me think this was no big deal for so many years!
The Mighty Mo passed so close to us that I could make out faces of the Sailors that lined her sleek wet body. She was escorted, like a debutante, preceded by a Coast Guard gunnery boat and flanked by an imposing tug that would gently assist her in her final maneuvers to the pier awaiting her.
Our next stop was the overlook near the Nautilus and I thought how appropriate that the newest ship would pass the oldest on her way home. Racing down to the pier, I could barely contain myself. We made it just before the Mighty Mo and got to watch the tug and crew working together to secure her to the pier. I was watching a well-rehearsed ballet in awe.
I saw my mustached Sailor scramble up the hatch onto her back, first turning to find me in the crowd and wave at me. Those were the first tears I shed yesterday. My Sailor was home safe and sound. I proudly watched as he strode to the back of the ship, with purpose, as a large cantilevered arm reached out to hand thousands of pounds of cables to him and his division so they could connect shore power to the ship.
I gathered all the ladies of the Mighty Mo together and asked that they yell “Hey Shipmate!” just so I could watch my Sailor turn around one more time, this time with a chagrined look on his face as he gave me a short wave. He was the only one that turned around. He is “THE” Shipmate on the boat.
I watched a massive crane slowly amble onto the pier to place a steel girdle around the nose and sail of the ship, ignorant of its purpose.
For the first time, I watched wives eyes gleam with tears and tenderness as they caught glimpses of their Sailors walking down the pier to say hello for a minute before they went back to work. They had a long way to go before their work day ended.
You may be thinking “Why haven’t you ever seen this?” Funny thing…. HE NEVER TOLD ME such a thing existed and worse than that, I NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK! I always waited for his call telling me he was home and thought that was the “thing” that Navy wives did.
I know better now and will never miss another opportunity like this again. If you’ve never seen this, you should. I haven’t done the majesty of it justice.
For the first time I didn’t see Submarines at their berths at the sub base.
I saw love lining the Pier in New London and it took my breath away.
This was my first homecoming but you can bet; it will not be my last.