Homecoming at NAS Jacksonville for military members whose deployments ran longer than planned

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seeing members of the military return home to their families and friends after being stationed far away for an extended period of time is one of those things that never gets old.

They landed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Tuesday afternoon in grand fashion to be greeted by friends and family who hadn’t seen them in nine months due to an extended deployment that had been planned for.

“When we left, it was a six-month deployment. It rapidly became extended after the actions in Ukraine, the Russian invasion there,” explained Commander Patrick Blind. “Our job was to reassure allies, to make sure that our partners over there knew that the United States had their back.”

When the “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 72 got home, they were greeted with big smiles and long hugs.

Blind said that his crew had been keeping a vigilant watch on both the land and the water in the Mediterranean region from about the time of the previous Thanksgiving.

“We were operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We never stopped,” Blind said. “There was always one of our aircraft flying just to make sure the battlegroup was safe, which is incredibly — when you think about that for nine months, that’s amazing. So, incredibly proud of my team.”

Blind’s response to the question of what the first thing would be that he’d do after arriving back at his residence was, “Taco Tuesday.” His kids enjoy it.

Jordan Collins

Jordan is an experienced editor with years in the journalism and reporting industry. He loves talking with the community about the problems local residents face and state politics. You can find him in the gym almost every day or see him jogging.

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