This was a great weekend for the folks in Norfolk, Va. and at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., at Whidbey Island, Wash. and Mayport, Fla.
It was an unforgettable, joyful weekend for the loved ones of more than 5,000 sailors of the ships and squadrons of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group returning home Nov. 15, after completing a nine-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Operations.
Carrier Air Wing 8 returned to Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., a day earlier.
Watch the video of the pilots of Carrier Air Wing 8 coming home below. Fast forward to minute 10 to see the moments of reunion.
The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group consists of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 22, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, and the guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun and USS Roosevelt.
The Strike Group deployed on 15 February, and steamed a total of 73,400 nautical miles throughout in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve “as well as Maritime Security Operations and Theater Security Cooperation efforts while working with joint, coalition and allied forces.”
Highlighting the versatility of a Carriers Strike Group (CSG), in one 30-hour period, Carrier Air Wing 8 flew combat sorties in support of the Afghan Democratic run-off elections, the USS George H.W. Bush (GHWB) aircraft carrier then quickly steamed west executing an inbound Strait of Hormuz transit and then launched armed sorties into Iraq to counter ISIL extremist advances. Ships and aircraft of the GHWB CSG were the first U.S. forces on scene providing combat capability over Iraq and options for the President. GHWB CSG commenced the first airstrikes in Iraq, Aug. 8.
In the early morning of Sept. 23, the Strike Group and coalition partners participated in the first offensive strikes deep into Syria, engaging both ISIS and Khorasan Group targets using a mix of strike fighter and bomber aircraft as well as Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs). The 47 TLAMs employed in the strikes were launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea operating in international waters from the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf, respectively.
During 2014, the GHWB CSG team amassed 12,774 sorties for a total of 34,831 flight hours. Of the sorties, 3,245 were combat sorties with 18,333 combat flight hours. The aircraft made 10,003 catapult launches and arrested landings (traps) for the deployment.
During the deployment, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 delivered a total of 232 precision guided bombs, launched 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) and fired more than 2,400 rounds of 20mm ammunition.
Rear Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III, commander of the Strike Group said: “I am extremely proud of each and every Sailor in the George H.W. Bush Strike Group and our many accomplishments during this 9-month deployment. The flexibility and striking power inherent in a Carrier Strike Group made a difference on this deployment, and professional Sailors made it all happen…am also eternally grateful for the wonderful support we all received from family members and friends, many of whom welcomed us home today.”
Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush man the rails as the ship pulls into Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens)
Sailors haul mooring lines for the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush as the ship returns to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Magen F. Weatherwax)
Lead photo: Operations Specialist 3rd Class Carter Davonte holds his daughter for the first time. The child was born while Davonte was deployed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Jessica Kellogg)