Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WELCOME HOME, DAD; Squadron 26 Returns Home after Deployment to Kuwait

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WELCOME HOME, DAD; Squadron 26 Returns Home after Deployment to Kuwait

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

WHO CAME HOME?

About 225 sailors and 16 Coast Guard personnel returned Friday to Jacksonville Naval Air Station after several months in Kuwait. They are members of Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron 26, which includes personnel from both Jacksonville NAS and Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys.

WHAT DID THEY DO?

The squadron provided port security to military ships and other vessels Navy officials described as "high-value assets," such as oil tankers and freighters. The squadron was also responsible for security at port entry points on land.

During their deployment in Kuwait, boat units assigned to the squadron logged more than 20,000 hours and escorted 150 vessels, allowing the safe delivery of more than 110,000 pieces of equipment. The squadron also safely inspected more than 100,000 vehicles and 20,000 foreign nationals.

HOW LONG WERE THEY GONE?

The reservists who serve in the squadron were mobilized in October 2005.

They and the active-duty sailors and Coast Guardsmen left for the Middle East about nine months ago.

HOW LONG WILL THEY BE HOME?

Navy officials said the squadron is not expected to be redeployed for three years.

WERE THERE ANY INTERESTING REUNIONS?

Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Kaminsky said he was among the most nervous people on the return flight home.

"I was crying on the plane," he said.

Kaminsky hadn't seen his newborn daughter, Alyssa, since she was 4 days old and was concerned about how she would react when he held her again.

Kaminsky was relieved when his daughter didn't fuss as he cradled her in his arms and whispered to her. He believes his daughter recognized him from the many times she heard his voice during phone calls. He also recorded his voice reading children's books, which his wife, Tiffany, played for Alyssa.

ANY OTHER TOUCHING STORIES?

Senior Chief Joseph Johnson had a difficult time recognizing his wife, Anne. While he was gone, she dieted and lost 50 pounds. …

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