JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nearly 200 Sailors from Patrol Squadron 26 returned home to NAS Jacksonville Thursday following a routine six-month deployment to the western Pacific in support of U.S. 7th Fleet led by Commanding Officer Cmdr. Andrew Klosterman.
Their mission was to deliver combat-ready Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aviation aircrews and aircraft to the military's combatant commanders.
It was a busy six months for the “Tridents," flying more than 700 sorties totaling over 4,000 flight hours and 11,000 maintenance man hours to keep the aircraft operating.
Missions in theater included Anti-Submarine Warfare, Maritime Domain Awareness, Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance, as well as Search and Rescue. They also participated in several international, multi-lateral naval exercises, air shows and engagements interacting with foreign navies from around the world to include Japan, Australia, Fiji, Guam, India, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
They were welcomed home by hundreds of family members and friends Thursday afternoon.
Heather Turner, a mother of two, anxiously awaited the arrival of her husband Andrew Turner, an AT2 and E5. Turner was greeted by his 3-year-old son Kai and his 7-month-old son Kaeden, whom he’d only seen for three days after he was born.
“I know my hardest days are nothing compared to her easiest days,” Turner said to his wife. “She’s already put me to work!”
The couple says the months apart are never easy, but FaceTime helps with staying connected with the kids. Turner will also voiceover books and send it to the kids so they can hear his voice telling them a story while he’s gone.
“You always have to put yourself in that mindset that you’re going to come back,” Turner said.
Like many others, he will deploy again in a little over a year, but he says he’s just happy to enjoy the time home now.
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