USS Pittsburgh homecoming full of surprises

GROTON --  Earlier this week, Groton was making news because of a Russian spy ship lurking off of the Connecticut Shoreline. But today, it was another vessel that people on these parts were focused on.

After six months and nearly 40,000 nautical miles, The USS Pittsburgh fast attack nuclear submarine is back home.

"Once you see it start coming in and pulling in, it definitely gives you butterflies so we're excited," said Sara Nichols, whose husband is the executive officer of the USS Pittsburgh.

She had even more reason to be excited because her husband was about to hold their five month old son, Ryan, for the first time.

And when he did embrace his boy, Commander, David Nichols, noted he was "big, very big."

The day was full of surprises, including the proposal that was put on pause as USS Pittsburgh Fireman Zachary Noble's slippery hands dropped the ring he tried to slip on the finger of his girlfriend, Carly Loichinger.

"I'm like what is going on. But, I'm very grateful. He's home. I'm very happy," said Loichinger, who responded with a resounding "yes."

And, there was plenty of brotherly bonding.

"My brother still doesn't know," said Alan Keirns, an Air Force Airman, Who took leave to be at Friday's homecoming for his brother, U.S. Naval Petty Officer First Class, Bradley Keirns. "Hopefully we get some good reactions out of him."

Anxiousness overcame another brother.

"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack right now," said Dylan Viar, who flew to Connecticut from Illinois to surprise his older brother, ETR3 (SS) Cyle Viar.

But, Dylan did find the needle.

"I was totally surprised, but I thought he was like (going to get) a case of beer or something," said Cyle Viar, who added, through tears of joy, that being surprised by his brother was much better than any beer.

Tomorrow, Cyle and Dylan Will fly back to Illinois for a family reunion. The last time Cyle Viar was together with his family was 14 months ago, for Christmas of 2015.

Unless there is a need to send the USS Pittsburgh back out to sea sooner, it's crew will likely be on dry land for training and other Naval operations for about a year.