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Peleliu Returns Home

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070926-30
Release Date: 9/26/2007 6:31:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Brian Gaines, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5) returned to its homeport of San Diego following their four-month Pacific Partnership 2007 deployment Sept. 20.

Approximately 1,000 friends and family members turned out at pier 13 at Naval Station San Diego to welcome the Sailors and civilians returning from Southeast Asia and Oceania.

As the crowd neared the pier, members of the Navy Southwest Region Band played popular songs to add to the festivities.

“The Peleliu wanted to go all out, so we did,” said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Russ Paje, the coordinator for the homecoming event. “Everything is running smoothly, and that’s always good.

As the ship neared the pier, the crowd began cheering loudly. Applause and random comments about the ship’s stature, as well as how remarkable it is to see Sailors manning the rails, could be heard throughout the crowd.

“It’s truly exciting,” said the spouse of Peleliu Chaplain Lt. Kevin Nortin, who was one of approximately 12 spouses who were allowed onto the pier for the coveted "first kiss.” “It has been a long time coming,” she said.

For some Sailors, such as Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Mark Carlson, it was a special family reunion. Carlson’s parents and grandparents traveled from Nebraska to welcome him home.

“It is an exhilarating experience,” said Jo Anne Carlson, Carlson’s grandmother, of her first time witnessing a homecoming. “I’m so proud of him and all the Sailors on the ship.”

“It’s chilling, exciting and emotional,” said Linda Carlson, Carlson’s mother. “I’m glad everyone has come back safe.”

For the spouse of Damage Controlman 2nd Class John Reeder, the day was twice as special. In addition to seeing her husband for the first time in four months, the day also marked their 10-year wedding anniversary.

“I’m a little nervous, but excited at the same time,” she said, who was on hand with the couple’s two young daughters. “It’s always a flood of emotions when John returns.”

Throughout the deployment, Peleliu served as a platform for military and civilian personnel, who provided medical and dental care, as well as, education and preventative medicine to more than 31,600 people in the Philippines, Vietnam, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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