USS Missouri returns to a hero’s welcome

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GROTON --  It was a perfect day Wednesday to be on the water, especially if you are a sailor returning to your home port at the Naval Submarine Base.

After six months at sea, and only two opportunities to communicate with loved ones, the sailors aboard the USS Missouri and their families, grew anxious as the submarine came up the Thames River.

Anticipation grew, including for Michigan grandfather waiting for a third-generation sailor - his grandson.

"He made subs and all the rest of us were on surface ships, including his mother," said Chester Anderaon.

There were special signs and even outfits.

"I like to think that I'm like a 1950s housewife when he is home," said Aimy McKillop, of New London, wearing a sailor themed dress. "Like I dress up for him and like to make the house all perfect."

Four month old Carson Hammer was waiting to meet his dad, in person, for the first time.

"He (Carson) was actually born the day they pulled into a port so, it was pretty awesome. So he got to Facetime at least," said Rachael Hammer.

And just before 2 p.m., the 377 foot long USS Missouri, a Virginia class, fast attack submarine, was home.

As with every return, there were a series of firsts.

Recognized as the "first baby," tiny Carson, being held by mom, would have to wait in line for daddy's attention because his big brother and big sister had smothered dad with their love.

And the first kiss? More like kisses!

ITSC Anthony Rossi said he held up "better than expected," when greeting his family.

And, for some sailors, they returned from their very first deployment.

"It's really overwhelming. It's great to see everyone and that were all in that everyone's OK," said STS3 Brian McPhetridge, of Grafton, MA.

Homecoming never gets old, even for the USS Missouri's Commanding Officer.

"This is the seventh one," said Cmdr. Fraser Hudson

One thing's for certain: absence does make the heart grow fonder.

The crew will have about a month off. And the USS Missouri will likely undergo a maintenance over the next year or so. Before heading back out to sea in about 18 months.