Unit Back Home from Mideast; Families Reunite with Medical Personnel Who Worked in Hospitals for Seven Months
Tseng, Nin-Hai, The Florida Times Union
Byline: NIN-HAI TSENG, The Times-Union
Firsts are everything to Tara Shumaker. The 25-year-old recalled her 10-month-old's first teeth, his first crawl, the first time James Jr. sat up straight.
"He hasn't walked yet," said Shumaker of Jacksonville as James Jr. rested on her hip. "This little guy's been waiting for Daddy to come home."
And so James Sr. did Saturday night, along with about two dozen Jacksonville Naval Hospital medical personnel returning from a seven-month deployment in the Middle East. James Shumaker was part of the U.S. Navy's second Force Service Support Group serving in various field hospitals, mostly in Kuwait.
The group deployed Feb. 8 and were scheduled to return in August. However, their service was unexpectedly extended by one month in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the war on terrorism.
"It feels good to hold your kids again," James Shumaker said, after about a nine-hour bus ride from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Jacksonville Naval Air Station. "Yeah, glad I didn't miss those first steps."
About 40 family members, friends and co-workers greeted the group in front of the hospital bearing flowers, American flags and balloons. This is the hospital's second group to be deployed since the Sept. …