VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Nearly 2,000 sailors and Marines on a mission to fight ISIS forces in the Middle East are back home just in time for the holidays.
Some of the men and women of Carrier Air Wing One returned home Sunday to Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk after a nine-month deployment.
The Navy says six months of the nearly 1,700-member group was spent in the Persian Gulf fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“Flying everyday over there, we dropped a lot of weapons and we were able to be very effective with our targets on the ground,” said Capt. Ben Hewlett, Carrier Air Wing One Commander.
Family members say they are happy to have their loved ones home just four days before Thanksgiving.
“It’s family time, and we need him to be here,” said Nancy Barr, whose son returned home from his fifth deployment to the Middle East.
“It’s a long time, but we’re doing important stuff and trying to make the world a better place,” said LCDR Ray Barr, who is a part of the ‘Red Rippers.’
Carrier Air Wing One’s top command says they dropped more than 1,000 bombs and 24 missiles. The increased terror threat from ISIS even forced them to take extra precautions while overseas, according to Hewlett.
“There was some concerns about that,” he said. “For a while we were taking names off the jets and taking patches off of flight suits. It’s a concern that folks just need to be aware of.”
For families, though, there’s a sense of relief knowing everyone made it home safe.
“It hurts to have him gone, but it’s great to have him back,” said Mrs. Barr.
Carrier Air Wing One was deployed as part of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. Hewlett says future plans include moving to the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.