SAN DIEGO - It didn’t take long for families to make up for lost time, after being separated from their loves ones for nine months. Many came with personalized signs in hand to welcome home the more than 250 Sailors aboard the USS Higgins.
The crew left San Diego in January and were in the Western Pacific and the Middle East working on security missions as part of the USS Nimitz Strike Group.
Even following the carrier to North Korea, where tensions rose with their arrival, prompting North Korea to launch short range missiles, leaving their families back at home with an awful feeling.
Monique Hardaway, a Navy Wife told 10News, “I was really nervous. There were tears, stomach cramps, just wondering. It’s up and down worrying about our Sailors out there.”
Rossana Amezcua , another Navy Wife says, “I was hoping nothing would come up. I was always watching the news. I didn’t want to hear bad news.“
The Sailors themselves told 10News reporter Marie Coronel it was an experience where they put their training to use, following through the responsibilities they signed up for.
Rodell Hardaway, a USS Higgins Sailors says, “It was good to support my country, that’s what I’m here to do. And I was there to support anything that we did. It was a good experience and I’d do it again.”
The ship is named in honor of Marine Col. William R. Higgins, who was captured in Southern Lebanon by Hezbollah militants on Feb. 17, 1988, while serving as chief of Observer Group Lebanon as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
His captors held the 45-year-old Higgins hostage, tortured him and eventually killed him, releasing a videotape a year-and-a-half after his abduction showing him hanging by the neck. His remains were found on a Beirut Street on Dec. 23, 1991, and interred at Quantico National Cemetery seven days later.
The warship named after Higgins was christened by his widow, Robin, on Oct. 4 1997, and commissioned on April 24, 1999.