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5,000 sailors aboard USS George HW Bush return home: 'It's surreal'

Posted at 10:16 AM, Apr 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-24 11:11:40-04

NORFOLK, Va. — After more than eight months at sea, 5,000 sailors aboard the USS George H.W. Bush returned home from deployment Sunday.

“It’s amazing, it’s a bittersweet moment, it’s surreal," said sailor Sydney Williams. “You just never take these moments for granted.”

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) left Norfolk in August of 2022 and, with other members of its Carrier Strike Group (CSG), participated in NATO-led vigilance activity Neptune Strike and Juniper Oak 23-2 — which was the largest bi-lateral U.S.-Israeli exercise in history, according to a news release from the U.S. 2nd Fleet public affairs office.

“It’s been a long eight-and-a-half-months, but I’m just really happy to be home. There’s nothing I want more right now in this moment,” said sailor Patrick Brooks.

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The homecoming was full of tears, hugs and kisses.

Sailor Dustin Balch told News 3 he was speechless. "No words can explain it, it’s amazing,” said Balch.

Leadership of the H.W. Bush said the carrier steamed more than 63,000 miles and had more than 25,000 flight hours during the deployment, all made possible by the men and women who returned Sunday.

"I’m excited to be home,” said sailor Darius Jackson.

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To read about the H.W. Bush's departure in August 2022, click here.