USS Enterprise arrives home
NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) -- The first U.S. aircraft carrier involved in a combat mission against Afghanistan returned home to Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, after the war on terrorism delayed its scheduled homecoming.
The USS Enterprise and the 5,000 sailors on board arrived at the U.S. naval base in Norfolk on Saturday morning. The ship had been scheduled to head home when the September 11 terrorist attacks changed plans and it was sent to the Persian Gulf region, where it took part in the first airstrikes on Afghanistan, which began October 7.
Thousands of enthusiastic family and friends were gathered at the base to greet the sailors, waving flags and holding signs, straining to get a glimpse of their loved ones. Sailors, each brandishing a U.S. flag, gathered on deck, waving back vigorously.
Shortly before the ship docked, those on shore and in the sea eagerly awaited reunions with loved ones.
A boy could not wait to see his father. "Me and my Mom got him a present and I made him a welcome home card."
A mother looked forward to greeting her son. "I miss him a lot. I love him and I miss him so much."
For the sailors, the feeling was mutual. "It feels great. I can't wait to see my wife and kids," one officer said.
The ship was relieved by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was originally supposed to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea. But once the airstrikes began, the Roosevelt was sent to the Arabian Sea.
The other two U.S. aircraft carriers in the region are the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Kitty Hawk. The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is scheduled to deploy on Monday from San Diego, California, to relieve the USS Carl Vinson.
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