A San Diego-based U.S. Coast Guard anti-terrorism unit returned to Naval Station North Island on Sunday from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba following a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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Anticipation was building after a nearly two-hour delay. Maria Riley was six hours early and could not wait to see her son, ME1 Carlos Riley. This was his fourth deployment.
"I dont know how much more I can endure," she said.
During the deployment, members of the Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego formed the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Maritime Security Detachment and were responsible for securing the port and waterways around the base, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson. Crews, who were specialized in armed boat tactics and threat interdiction, conducted more than 4,500 hours of continuous patrols, he said.
"The team consistently demonstrates quiet professionalism in every job that we perform, and I am extremely proud of their impressive contributions to this strategically important mission for the United States," said Cmdr. Eric Cooper, the team's commanding officer.
The unit also provided shore-side security at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which included internal courtroom security for the expeditionary legal complex where military commissions for high-value detainees are held, Anderson said. Unit members went beyond usual defensive operations and were highly skilled with weapons and tactical operations.
Reservists who volunteered from across the country were selected to augment the team's active-duty component. The reservists' civilian occupations included students, police officers and airline employees, he said.
"During the deployment, the active and reserve components integrated seamlessly across all aspects and the reservists brought unique skill sets from their civilian jobs that greatly enhanced out effectiveness," Cooper said.
The air cargo plane, a C17, landed at Naval Station North Island at about 5 p.m. and the guardsmen filed out twenty minutes later. Maria Riley jumped up and down with tears in her eyes.
Her son Carlos then gave her a big hug. When asked if he had anything important to say to her this Mother's Day, he said, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom."
She jumped one more time and then hugged him tightly and said, "Thank you."
Maria Riley said she could not have asked for anything more.
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