Pilot Homecoming

June 2, 2008 7:01:42 PM PDT
Hugs and kisses greeted pilots back to Lemoore Naval Air Station Monday after four months away from their families. They deployed to the Western Pacific in January and arrived back from a six month deployment overseas last October. "It's great to be home. A very, very tough year. We were out, came back for a couple of months and then went back out again," said Lieutenant Commander Chris Fliss.Lieutenant Lee Amerine said he and his wife bought a house 14 months ago and spent most of the time since aboard air carriers. "I've lived on the boat for 10 months and in my house for a while. It's going to be nice to be at home for six months," said Amerine.

24 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters flew into Lemoore Monday as family members on the ground cheered. But for the pilots and their loved ones the wait wasn't over yet. It took more than a half an hour for the jets to touch down and taxi, adding to the anxiety. "My heart was basically beating out of my chest," said Amerine's wife, Jennifer.

Lieutenant Commander Chris Flis was greeted by his wife, Akiko, and his in-laws who are visiting from Tokyo. The last moments were tough for Akiko. She kept busy taking snapshots to mark the occasion. "How do long to I have to wait? I'm glad he's here!," said Akiko.

For Gina Knoll the wait was even longer. Brian knoll's jet was the last on the runway and Gina ran the entire way wearing heels. "Nothing can keep me away from him," said Knoll.

Monday was just the first round of homecomings for Lemoore sailors aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz. Tuesday morning more than 240 support personnel will fly into the air station on air carriers and another 70 will arrive in the evening.


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