The USS Hartford is back home in New London after six months at sea.
Families traveled from all over the country to New London to welcome home the 157 sailors Wednesday.
“I’m not used to him being away so long, so I’m just anxious for him to come,” said 11-year-old Lillian Cool.
It was hard for the Cool kids to stay cool, not just because of the heat and the long wait for the submarine to dock, but they’ve missed their hero, their dad.
“He protects all the people in the Navy and other people around the world,” said 9-year-old Ashley Cool.
These families can tell you, a lot can happen in six months.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been a mix of emotions,” said Amber Cool. “I’ve missed him so much it’s nice to have him home today.”
Lt. Benjamin Hankin was allowed to disembark first.
After hugs from his daughters, the dad was meeting his newborn son Ian for the first time.
“It’s a bit surreal that he’s home. Grateful and appreciative and happy he’s back,” said his wife Anna Hankin.
“It’s hard to get pictures with the bandwidth we have, but I have two pictures from the hospital,” said Lt. Hankin. “This is much better. I’ll take this any day of the week super excited.”
Four-month-old Remy has only met her dad briefly. “He has not seen her at all since she was two weeks old, so it’s going to be a big, big surprise,” said mother and wife Dakota Lovett.
One mother came all the way from California to see her now big kid. They’re looking forward to celebrating the sailor’s 28th birthday this week after a lot of time under water.
“It’s definitely something, especially being on a tube in the middle of the ocean, not really being about to talk about where you are or knowing where you are most of the time,” said sailor Ross Sanders.
Each and every sailor today had a separation story share after committing themselves to protecting our country, leaving their families, and inspiring the future generation of leaders.
“It must be cool, you can see everything like sharks and fish,” said Lilliam Cool about the sailors on the submarine.
All the while their loved ones tried to stay afloat with a part of their heart at sea.
Making Wednesday’s welcome back well worth the wait.
“Oh it’s amazing. It’s been a longtime coming,” said Lillian and Ashley’s dad upon his return.