FRIGATE BACK FROM AFRICA; Pier Packed with People as Ship Pulls into Mayport

Article excerpt

Byline: ROGER BULL

The USS Doyle arrived home from six months along the coast of West Africa. In the timeless tradition of sailors returning home from the sea, friends and family lined the pier at Mayport Naval Station to watch the frigate come into port.

Denise Gizankis had a lot to catch up with her husband, Larry.

"We were still up in Illinois when he came down for the ship," she said. "We moved ourselves. He doesn't even know where we live."

She moved the family - 4-year-old Tyler and 2-year-old MacKenzie - down and settled in their new home on Jacksonville's Northside. But there was much that Larry Gizankis, a personnel specialist II, wasn't there for.

"Our son is special needs," Denise Gizankis said, "and he started talking. Our daughter started talking, too. He missed that."

Three days after Larry Gizankis left Illinois for Florida, daughter MacKenzie was attacked by a Rottweiler. So Mom had to deal with that trauma and take her daughter to the hospital for 10 stitches. Having to do that by yourself is part of life as a military spouse.

"It's something I knew when I married," she said. "So I expected it."

Here's more on Sunday's homecoming:

THE SHIP

The USS Doyle is a guided missile frigate, 453 feet long. When it's at sea, it's home to 200 sailors.

THE DEPLOYMENT

The Doyle left Mayport in May to help train West African countries in different aspects of maritime security. The navies along the Gulf of Guinea aren't anything like the U. …