Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tears of Joy Flow as Sailors Return Home to Mayport; USS Halyburton, Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Klakring All Returned This Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tears of Joy Flow as Sailors Return Home to Mayport; USS Halyburton, Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Klakring All Returned This Week

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM AASEN

Kayla Davila, 21, said her Friday morning was like waking up to Christmas, "only better."

That's because her husband, Eduardo, returned from a six-month deployment on the USS Halyburton.

The night before, she said she couldn't sleep. But that's nothing out of the ordinary during her husband's first Navy deployment.

"I never got anxiety before in my life, but I got it when he was gone," she said. "At night it was the worst. My heart would race because all I would think about is him coming home. It was a really good feeling to wake up and know he'll be home today."

With four ships returning to Mayport Naval Station, it was a week full of cheers, tears of joy and signs that read, "We love you, daddy!" The USS Vicksburg and USS Halyburton returned Friday; the USS Gettysburg returned Tuesday and the USS Klakring returned Wednesday. In all, about 1,100 sailors were brought home.

"It's an amazingly exciting time," said Capt. Chuck Nygaard, commander of the cruiser Vicksburg. "Everybody worked so hard to accomplish so much. We had a kind of a mantra that if you are going to leave a 6-year-old girl crying at the pier, then you better make this trip worth it. You better come home a better man. And we lived that."

Nygaard said the Navy brought counselors on the ship to help sailors adjust to returning home, which can be difficult. He said the counselors talk with sailors about how their families might have changed since they left and it can be tough to walk in and act like "big daddy boss" from the start. They even give advice on how to buy a car and avoid celebrating too much and getting into trouble.

WHILE THEY WERE GONE

Jenn Troiani, 23, said she had a hard time since her husband, Francesco, 23, has been away on his first deployment on the Vicksburg. She said she grew a 500-square-foot garden to keep herself busy. She didn't even sleep in her bed. She said she slept on a couch every night because "you get used to sleeping next to someone in bed. It gets lonely."

Theresa Lewis said she counted that her 23-year-old son, Demarcus, sent her 561 e-mails since he's been deployed on the Vicksburg. …

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