Holidays with families for returning U.S. sailorsDecember 20, 1996
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EST
NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) -- Some 5,000 sailors aboard the USS Enterprise returned home Friday just in time for the holiday season after some 175 days abroad.(906K/23 sec. QuickTime movie)
Long-separated families were reunited, children clutched their fathers, and there were plenty of tears and screams of delight.
"We're home," shouted one sailor, his arms outstretched as if giving America a giant bear hug.
It's been a long adventure for the sailors. Aboard the nuclear powered carrier, they served in some of the world's hottest spots, helping to patrol the no-fly-zone over Iraq and doing a stint in the Adriatic Sea near war-torn Bosnia.
Many of the sailors missed a great deal in the nearly six months while they were away. About 130 Enterprise crew members left expectant wives and arrived home to see their own children for the first time.
"It's always great to be back home...one of the best things of all is watching what's happening on the pier right now."
-- Michael D. Malone
"Leaving was the hardest thing I've ever done," said William Wilkerson of Lawtey, Florida.
But now that they're back in the states, the sailors have a chance to reconnect with their families, just in time for the Christmas holidays.
Said one Enterprise sailor as he held his wife and child: "I'm going to watch some football and probably fix the car."
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