The warmth felt by families and friends as they reunited with loved on aboard the USS North Dakota overpowered the bitter cold they waited in before the submarine moored at the Naval Submarine Base New London Thursday.
Lastenia Chavez Galvan and Marco Antonio Garcia drove six days from Michoacán, Mexico to surprise their son, Petty Officer Third Class Jorge Alberto Garcia-Chavez.
“They both said that’s their son, their friend and their hero,” another military mom translated for the couple.
“I’m just so glad to see my parents. It’s been a long trip and all I can think is I feel so joyful just to see them again,” Garcia-Chavez said with a big smile.
The Yanez family traveled from Diamond Head, Mississippi. They’re a three-generation military family.
“I can’t say enough about him. I’m so proud of him,” said Peter Yanez, an Army veteran, about his son Zachary.
Kids jumped into their dads’ arms. There were kisses, selfies and endless hugs.
The USS North Dakota spent six months in the European Command Area of Responsibility.
The fast-attack Virginia-class submarine was under the lead of Cmdr. Mark Robinson. The crew executed the Chief of Naval Operation’s Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and Maritime Security Operations.
Ensign Shawn Brennan returned home to find out he was having a daughter. Wife Ryan brought a box carrying pink balloons for the big gender reveal.
“It’s exciting. It’s very exciting,” Brennan said.
“We’re so excited to have daddy back,” Ryan Brennan said, wiping away tears of joy.
The USS North Dakota was commissioned on October 25, 2014 and is the eleventh Virginia-class fast attack submarine. The crew is made up of approximately 132 people; 15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors.