PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- On May 6, friends and family members of the crew from USS Hopper (DDG 70) gathered at the Bravo piers to welcome back the guided-missile destroyer as she returned to her homeport Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing an eight-month independent deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.
USS Hopper and its crew of nearly 280 Sailors deployed from Pearl Harbor Sept. 6, 2013 to conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations. During its time at sea, her crew also participated in interdiction operations, practiced humanitarian assistance and anti-piracy operations.
USS Hopper's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Dave Snee, said he was proud of the dedication of the crew, who successfully completed every task that came their way.
"I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Sailors aboard Hopper during this deployment. They have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty executing our very demanding operational schedule," said Snee. "I am also very proud of the families of 'Hopper Nation' back home who, through their hard work and constant devotion, have supported us and enabled us to concentrate on our mission."
Destroyer Squadron 31 Commodore Chris Bushnell also stated admiration and appreciation of the hard work employed by Hopper's crew during the eight-month deployment.
"I am proud of the performance of Hopper and her crew on deployment and pleased that the hard work and preparation for deployment paid off as they executed a full spectrum of operations in 5th and 7th fleets," said Bushnell.
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, displayed thanks to the crew on board Hopper for their dedication to service, as well as, the dedication of families and loved ones in supporting their Sailors.
"We are extremely thankful not only for their service, but also for the sacrifice and support of their loved ones," said Williams. "The families of USS Hopper have great strength and resiliency in supporting their Sailors."
For the Sailors aboard Hopper, returning to the homeport of Pearl Harbor was a surreal event.
"It's amazing," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Corey Hoffman. "There's this tingly feeling, you know? You get the ships blowing their horns, people giving us a 'Hoo-rah', saluting us on our way and everyone cheering when we got here. It was something special. I've never felt that before."
According to Hoffman, the deployment served to show how his individual efforts came to be a part of a bigger effort, one that, along with his shipmates, goes to have a global impact.
"It's interesting to know you took part in a real world impact, that the whole world sees and knows," said Hoffman. "And you're like 'Oh, hey, I was there. I did that.' It's special and I'm glad I did it. It was definitely a worthwhile experience."
Another Sailor from USS Hopper echoed Hoffman's sentiments.
"It's just an emotion I can't describe," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Tiago Thomas. "It' one of those things where it's eight months long, then you come back and it just feels worth it. That feeling, I don't think I'll ever get doing anything else."
Despite the excitement by the Sailors, their families and friends, those aboard USS Hopper remained appreciative and proud of their work and their shipmates, who they worked alongside everyday during their time at sea.
"It's a great crew," said Thomas. "The best ever I've been a part of. So, it's definitely been a great experience that we've had. Nobody I would rather work with than the this crew."
According to Electronics Technician 3rd Class Samuel Chittenden, every Sailor on board USS Hopper is essential to her mission capability.
"Everyone has an important job on board and we had a lot of things just go absolutely perfectly," said Chittenden. "There was nothing that was overwhelming because everyone just came together when they needed to and never missed a mission."
USS Hopper is named after Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, the pioneering computer scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Technology (now known as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation), the highest honor of its type in the United States.