story & photos
by Josie Kapral
While driving on I-95 through New London on your way to Mystic, you probably have noticed the sign with the submarine that says “Submarine Capital of the World.” And while driving over the bridge, you may even be lucky enough to see a submarine making its way home to the Navy Submarine Base in Groton. However, if you are really lucky, you also get the chance to watch the submarine pull into the pier where eager family members wait for their loved ones that they have not seen in six months. This is an opportunity that should not be missed if you ever get the chance to do so. September 11, 2014 was such a day for the sailors, friends and families of the USS Annapolis.
While the submarine was navigating around the world, life was continuing as usual at home. There were ball games, birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries and even two births! LT Adam Bush and Petty Officer Second Class William “Wil” Wade were two of the dads that would have to wait until they pulled up to the pier to meet their children for the very first time. Families of the USS Annapolis kept themselves busy trying to pass the time until September 11th would roll around and they could be reunited again.
“For Jesse and I, it went by pretty quickly! We kept ourselves as busy as possible with school, sports and camping most weekends in the summer. We missed him every single day he was gone, but the busier you keep yourself, the faster it goes!” said Mercedes Johnmeyer, wife of Heath Johnmeyer, executive officer of the USS Annapolis.
When September 11th finally arrived, so did the USS Annapolis. Family members cheered as the band from the Westside Middle School played and people sang “Anchors Aweigh.” The worst part of waiting was the last hour while the submarine was in view, but the families were not allowed onto the pier until the submarine was safely docked. There was a mix of emotions for so many people.
“I missed him so much and it was taking forever for him to get off the boat and all I wanted to do was to hug him!” said McKenzie Breitkrwutz, a nine year old little girl, who was waiting with her mother, Samantha, for her dad, MM1 Jason Breitkreutz. Well, McKenzie finally got her chance for her long awaited hug as the sailors finally began to make their way off the boat and to their families.
Fathers of newborns finally met their children. LT Adam Bush was greeted with a huge smile by his wife, Melissa, and sons Simon and Owen. Across the pier, Jessica Wade made her way to her husband, Petty Officer Second Class Wil Wade and he held his six day old daughter, Melody for the very first time.
Watching these families and loved ones rush the pier with such a sea of emotions really makes you realize how much happens over the course of six months and how much sacrifice not only the sailors, but the families and especially the children make so that we can do the things we do every single day. As you look at the images from this homecoming and other homecomings like it, I hope it makes you smile. I hope that it makes you feel grateful for what you have and perhaps give you a better understanding of what that “Submarine Capital of the World” sign really means. It doesn’t just stand for the submarines that make their way down the Thames River. It stands for the people that give up having dad there at their birthday party and in the hospital while giving birth. It also stands for the submarine community and how thankful we are that you allow us to call this little corner of Connecticut our home. It’s your sign too.