USS Abraham Lincoln is home for a visit

EVERETT — With white clouds giving way to blue skies, about 70 relatives and friends of sailors on Monday welcomed back loved ones who arrived aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Stefanie McGill of Marysville came with her children, Breanna, 8, and Jordan, 5, to greet her husband, sailor John McGill, 35, after he spent five days at sea.

McGill said her husband, a 10-year veteran of the Navy, spent seven months on deployment to the Persian Gulf aboard the carrier in 2008.

This time, she said, though he was away for less time, the family noticed it more.

To her, the quick trips take more getting used to.

”When he’s gone for longer periods, you get into a schedule,” she said. “When he’s gone for shorter periods of time, you get used to having him around — and then he’s gone.”

Sailors’ loved ones can expect more short periods away from home in the coming months as the ship travels to and from Southern California for exercises with its air wing and other ships in its strike group.

The aircraft carrier has been close to home since April, when it arrived at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

Since that time, the ship has undergone some $350 million in maintenance and upgrades.

After departing the shipyard Jan. 13, the crew, including about 3,000 personnel, spent five days testing and training at sea before the ship returned to its home port in Everett.

Wives weren’t the only ones awaiting loved ones.

Derek Baker, 22, of Port Orchard, said he was looking forward to a rare get-together with his wife, Courtney Messman, 22, an aviation boatswain’s mate responsible for guiding aircraft as they land and take off.

Baker, who is based at McChord Air Force base, said being a military couple can be a challenge.

“It’s rough but we knew what we were getting into and we were willing to do it,” he said. “She always tells me, ‘What’s a couple of years compared to the rest of our lives?’ ”

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