Loved ones welcome sailors of USNS Mercy home

Posted at 12:17 PM, Sep 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-27 15:17:20-04

Hundreds of local sailors returned home Sunday and into the arms of loved ones after a four-month long deployment.

As the USNS Mercy inched its way closer to land, family and friends of sailors aboard waited to greet them with hugs and signs.

Two-year-old Aspen may have had the most clever sign. It read, "Out of my way, I get my papa back today."

"I miss you papa," said Aspen.

"They're best friends, they're attached to each other, so he is really excited," said Alyssa Fullen.

Excited may be an understatement.

Before his deployment, Aspen's grandpa, Lieutenant Pete Bradford, made home videos.

Linda Bradford was on the phone with her husband as he waved at her from the ship.

"He was saying he loves us, and he'll see us pretty soon and it's great to see us all here," said Bradford.

Lt. Bradford runs the operating room on the USNS Mercy. He and hundreds of sailors went on a four-month humanitarian mission to countries in southeast Asia, doing dental and healthcare procedures.

The USNS Mercy is the same ship involved in an accident at the dock attached to the USS Arizona memorial in Hawaii.

Lt. Bradford was very excited to see Aspen.

"It's hard to put into words, seeing my little grandson means a lot to me," said Lt. Bradford.