SAN DIEGO – Friends and family gathered at Naval Base San Diego to welcome back USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) Sailors returning to their home port July 3 after a six-month deployment to the 7th Fleet in support of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines.
“It’s good to be back after six months of operating half way across the world from loved ones, and it is great to see our Sailors and their families reunited again. I applaud them for their sacrifices and making our country what it is,” said Lt. Kenneth Landry, Vandegrift’s operations officer.
Landry’s wife shared her husband’s joy, saying, “I’m so happy to have him home again. Few words can describe the explosive joy and excitement that’s in the hearts of the spouses, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and friends on this pier. I am no exception.”
During their mission supporting the Global War on Terrorism, Vandegrift became the first U.S. Navy ship to make port visits to Cagayan de Oro, General Santos City, and Cotabato, Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines.
While operating in the Philippines, the officers and crew conducted community relations projects, including a visit to an orphanage where Sailors played with and read to children. Vandegrift Sailors also refurbished a community basketball court, donated medicinal and hygienic items and toys.
In addition to the community service projects, Vandegrift embarked local government officials and distinguished members of the Philippine Navy in a gesture of continued friendship. During these visits, participants engaged in an exchange of cultural ideas and discussed common topics of professional interest.
The ship wrapped up their successful visit with carrier escort duties during the last month of her deployment in support of the USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group before heading home.
“This was a very successful deployment by all measures,” said Cmdr. Dean Rawls, Vandegrift’s commanding officer. “The crew performed superbly and Vandegrift accomplished all assigned tasks. I am extremely proud of every Vandegrift Sailor.”
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department and Fleet and Family Support Center worked hard to prepare for this homecoming, which was memorable for all.
Of the event, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Craig St. Clair said, “I’m thrilled to be home at last to see my wife, daughters, and son again. I missed my family much over deployment. Even with e-mail nowadays, there’s still no substitute for seeing them all in person.”