Navy helicopter crews return to North Island

Aided in search of missing Malaysian jetliner

CORONADO, Calif. - Smiles and tears of joy greeted crew members of HSM-78 as four helicopters returned from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

"It was a long time and we are definitely happy to be back together as a family," said Vanessa Price, who waited for her husband.

The helicopters were attached to two guided missile destroyers, USS Kidd and USS Pinckney, which left San Diego in January.

In March, they received orders to help in the search of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared.

"As soon as we got the order, the captain made best speed to get us there," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Bradshaw.

Once on scene, helicopter crews scoured 1,500 miles of ocean a day looking for debris but to no avail.  

"We'd pass the time talking about family and what we wanted to do when we got home," said Navy rescue swimmer Robert Flores, who indeed had a plan when he got home.

On one knee on the tarmac with a half dozen family members around him, he asked his girlfriend Marissa Ames to marry him. Her answer was yes.  

The maintainers of the detachment and the crew of the two ships are due back Thursday.

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