Welcome Home USS Abraham LincolnBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Excitement, jubilation, and tears of joy filled the Everett Naval Station dock when three of its vessels arrived last Sunday morning.
Thousands of people, including the men and women of the destroyers USS Momsen, USS Shoup, and the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, greeted their families and friends, and some saw their newborn babies for the first time.
Granite Falls resident Cheryl Acker was lucky enough to have her husband FC1 Adam Acker fly home early from Hawaii instead of waiting for the carrier’s arrival.
Cheryl said that they have been married for two years and this was their first deployment as a couple, but his third in his ten year career thus far.
“I knew it was happening and while I was very sad that he was going to be leaving, I knew that nothing I did was going to change the fact that he was leaving,” she said. “The worst part of the deployment was the not knowing. We did not have dates of pulling in to ports, when email would be working, when they would be able to call and the ultimate unknown was when they would be home. We were given dates but everything is written in pencil!”
Now seven months later she felt the excitement with the impending arrival of her husband.
There was a similar experience for a Lake Stevens family as their excitement mounted for a couple of weeks building up to what became a heartfelt and very emotional welcome for Donna Harris, her parents, in-laws and friends of the family as they waited dockside for the USS Abraham Lincoln to arrive.
Her husband of twenty years was coming home on his last deployment of his eighteen-and-a-half year career and everyone wanted to make sure they would be there for his arrival.
FCC Glenn Harris stood high above the crowd below, perhaps a hundred feet up on the carrier deck with their two children Tommy and Kristen and saluted to his wife below.
In their own unique way of responding, Donna and the rest of the family and friends below signaled back with their long running tradition of forming the letters “O” and “U” above their heads with their arms.
“We do this so he can find us in the crowd,” Donna said.
The “O” and “U” stand for Oklahoma University she explained.
Their children were fortunate enough to participate in a “Tiger Cruise” which allows the dependent or immediate family (excluding the spouse) to cruise the last days before arriving into their homeport.
All around you could feel the excitement build to a feverish roar as the gangway was moved into place for disembarkment.
Donna’s phone rang, and it was Tommy calling to let her know that they will be down in about 45 minutes and to look for them.
“There they are,” Donna shouted and pointed.
She stood almost motionless as she waited for her husband. When they held each other for the first time in months, the gateway of emotions opened up and tears of happiness welled-up in Glenn’s eyes.
Several seconds passed and he was able to express himself with a few words saying that, “Words can’t describe it.”
“We’re proud of our son,” his father said.
In a surprise, his wife was awarded a plaque which was presented to her pier-side by Master Chief Gross for her participation and support in the Group Nine staff families.
She smiled proudly.
It was time to be a family united once again, and they left the Naval Station to meet other friends for dinner back in Lake Stevens.
Both parents of Donna and Glenn said that the two have a wonderful relationship and love each other very much.
“That love, extended family and support of Navy families is the key to making it through the times when spouses are away from their families and on duty,” Donna said.