story & photos
by Eva Bunnell
On the warm, sunny, afternoon of Wednesday, October 4th, family members, friends, and various Navy personnel awaited the return of the USS Missouri to its homeport at the Naval Submarine Base in New London.
Family members of the 132-member crew-15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors- could barely contain their excitement and pride. And who could blame them. Proud American military families are the backbone of the world’s most elite naval force on any water.
The USS Missouri, under the command of Cmdr. Fraser Hudson, is a fast-attack multi-mission, submarine that enables “five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities-sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.” Commissioned on July 31, 2010, the Missouri returned to its homeport after months away from its New London homeport, while “executing the Chief of the Naval Operation’s Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and Maritime Security Operations.” The submarine is “designed to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance” among many other features that help protect our country. It is “377 feet long with a beam of 34 feet.”
On Wednesday, however, what mattered most to those gathered just beyond the pier, was that the Missouri contained a most precious cargo, its officers and sailors. Pat and Dennis Monks, of East Rutherford, New Jersey, along with their daughter, Sarah, “couldn’t wait” to see and welcome home their son and Sarah’s brother, Dylan, who is a sailor on the Missouri.
Dennis Monk shared proudly that “Prior to joining the Navy, Dylan became a firefighter, just like me. When he became a firefighter, I told him he became my brother. When he joined the Navy, he became my hero.” Standing beside the family at the pier, was Dylan’s fiancé, Samantha Dabek. Adding to the excitement of the day, the family shared that in three weeks the couple will be welcoming family and friends to their wedding. It is set to take place at Yosemite National Park.
As is the custom for submarine crews returning to home port, those who are first in line for a hug and kiss are chosen by lottery. The couple chose for “First Kiss” was Kim and Anthony Rossi, Chief System Technician Submarine. The Rossi’s are from Florida and Arizona, respectively. They met, however, in Groton. Those chosen for “First Hug” were Hannah and Michael Wirth, STSC.
Watching families reunite, and listening to their shouts of joy on first seeing one another, it was hard not to be emotional. These families endure what many civilians do not-separation from one another in service to our nation’s global security. And they do so, with strength.
To the crew and families of the USS Missouri, and to all military and their families-thank you for your sacrifice and service.