Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Brian Farber returned home Thursday along with nearly 5,000 others on the nuclear-powered carrier Abraham Lincoln after his fifth deployment.
His wife, Rebecca, said being without her husband was “almost unbearable, but it has worked out.”
Farber’s first child, Reagan, was born six weeks ago.
“Growing my baby inside me without him didn’t feel right,” she said before his disembarking at Naval Air Station North Island.
But thanks to FaceTime, Farber was able to watch his daughter being born.
Now that hubby is home, she said, “We can start being a family.”
Ronnie Smith Jr., another crew member, said the 8 a.m. homecoming was priceless.
“A millionaire would wish to feel this,” he said.
“It never gets old,” Smith said after being enthusiastically greeted by his 4-year-old son, Ronnie III, and 3-year-old daughter, Adline.
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Other wives talked about the relief of having their husbands home to help around the house.
Said Leslie Callaway, married to Capt. Lewis Callaway: “My honey-do list is a mile long.”
Said Jessica Pugh, wife of Senior Chief Larry Pugh: “It seems like things break down as soon as he leaves. It was a long 7 1/2 months. “You miss him. I just want to hug him now.”
Some wives said communications hiccups — spotty internet — made keeping in touch difficult.
Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, the first female commanding officer of a U.S. aircraft carrier, was upbeat after her 34-year-old ship’s first mission with a Marine F35C Lightning II squadron.
“Abraham Lincoln sailors have worked exceptionally hard during this dynamic deployment and should be proud of their accomplishments,” she said in a statement. “It is incredibly humbling to serve alongside these professionals and observe their dedication to the mission.
“Every day of our seven month deployment, this talented crew displayed grit, resilience and professionalism in the execution of their jobs. Their hard work made the difference as we operated alongside joint and combined forces to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In a telephone press conference Wednesday, Bauernschmidt said the Lincoln strike group was operating in the vicinity of Chinese warships at times, shadowing each other,
“It was safe and professional the entire time that we interacted with them,” she said. “During some flight operations, our aircraft did interact with some of their aircraft. But again, it remains safe and professional each and every time we interacted with them.”
Asked if she would be concerned being near Taiwan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was there, Bauernschmidt said she wouldn’t be more concerned than in the past.
She said the future for women in the Navy was bright.
“There are always challenges with each and every individual, not just women,” she said. “We always continue to work to try to make the environment as fair and equal to everyone.”
She said she’s holding the CO job because in 1994, the women-in-combat exclusion was lifted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“So a lot of ways women have been serving in the Navy for longer,” she said. “And that is the reason that I am here right now.”
The USS Abraham Lincoln and accompanying ships included time in the South China Sea and Philippine Sea.
The Lincoln docked at Naval Air Station North Island, while the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance tied up at Naval Base San Diego.
The destroyers USS Gridley and USS Sampson headed north to Naval Station Everett in Washington.
While underway for 220 days, the Lincoln’s strike group sailed over 65,000 nautical miles and conducted a variety of missions, including maritime security and training for long-range strikes, anti-submarine warfare and air defense.
Navy and Marine air crews deployed on the Lincoln chalked up 21,307 flight hours, 10,250 sorties, 8,437 launches and 8,487 landings.
The Lincoln was the first carrier to deploy with a Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II squadron, which returned to Miramar on Tuesday.
Notable exercises during the deployment included Noble Fusion in February, Jungle Warfare in March, Valiant Shield in June, and RIMPAC in July.