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USS Boxer Completes Longest Deployment in Ship's History

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS030811-06

Release Date: 8/11/2003 11:29:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Michael S. Glenn, USS Boxer Public Affairs

BOARD USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- July 26, USS Boxer (LHD 4) completed its longest deployment ever, spending 190 days away from its homeport of San Diego.

The ship, its crew and embarked Marines left San Diego Jan. 17 for the Arabian Gulf and what would become Operation Iraqi Freedom. Boxer spent the first 100 days of deployment at sea before having its first break from operations in the port of Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, April 27.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Boxer personnel were involved in the night rescue of former POW Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch. The ship's intelligence specialists provided satellite imagery of the hospital and surrounding areas to Marine pilots who staged for the mission from Boxer. Boxer was in the Arabian Gulf for the duration of Operation Iraqi Freedom conducting coalition air control and identification, and providing sea-based support to Marine aviation units and U.S. and coalition ships in the region. Crew members also participated in mine countermeasure and small boat operations.

Sailors on Boxer said they experienced some anxiety at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but that they feel good about the role they played.

"It was stressful at the beginning," said Fireman Matthew Whitecotton. "But I feel like we really accomplished something we can be proud of." In addition to serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Whitecotton said being deployed for 190 days taught him a lot about how to get along with others.

"I learned a lot about communication. Different people talk different ways and learn different ways, and I learned a lot about how to communicate with a lot of different types of people."

On return from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sailors and Marines on Boxer visited Sydney and Townsville, Australia, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The deployment wrapped up with a Tiger Cruise from Pearl Harbor, with family and friends coming aboard the ship for the return transit to San Diego and a chance to experience life aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

As the ship neared San Diego, crew members expressed feelings of relief at completing the longest deployment the ship has ever made.

"It's great to be heading back home," said Aerographer's Mate 3rd Class Thomas Folds. "I'm definitely looking forward to getting back and spending time with my family."

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