By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
EVERETT — The USS Shoup is back in Everett following the longest deployment by a Navy destroyer since World War II.
The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer left Naval Station Everett on Jan. 9 and arrived back home on Monday morning.
Navy Cmdr. Jill Cesari, the Shoup’s commanding officer, greeted families waiting for their sailors to disembark and thanked them for coming out for the rainy return celebration.
“I think this might have been the third-longest destroyer deployment ever,” Cesari said. “It was a heck of a ride. We traveled 64,000 miles. The crew did amazing work and we gave it our all.”
Of the sailors streaming off the ship, 11 were fathers who had not yet seen their new babies.
Among them was first-time dad Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Curnett, who scanned the crowd for his wife’s bright pink coat.
As the ship pulled up to the Navy pier, his wife, Kirby Ritter-Curnett, nervously tried to keep their 6-week-old baby, Charlotte Curnett, warm in the cold drizzle.
The Curnetts, both in their mid-20s, are from the Midwest. Ritter-Curnett went home to Kansas City to deliver the baby, but they plan to return to their apartment in Everett.
“She really does have red hair,” Curnett said to his wife. “She is beautiful. I am very proud.”
While the crowd waited, a jazz combo from Navy Band Northwest entertained with a variety of upbeat songs, including Dixieland-style tunes and the melody from Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”
The family of Petty Officer 3rd Class Mitch Kraus danced to keep warm. They also held up a giant greeting sign made from red, white and blue duct tape.
“Mitch joined the Navy soon after his dad passed,” his mother Kris Kraus said. “He’s our youngest and this was his first deployment.”
Kraus, 20, also was welcomed by his two sisters, brothers-in-law and niece Holly, 1. They got up at 3 a.m. Monday to make the trip over Stevens Pass from the Leavenworth area.
“It was a long time to be away, but the last hour getting here was the longest of the whole trip,” Mitch Kraus said as he munched on a biscuit and grinned at his family. “I got to man the rails for the first time as we pulled in. It was great.”
Emily Reed, who turned 21 on Monday, waited with her son Cameron, 2. They were joined by her husband’s mother and brother, who had driven his car out all the way from New Hampshire.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Fred Reed said the deployment was extended four times. He was thrilled to get back in time to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
“It worked out great, but it was a long wait,” Emily Reed said. “We only did a video chat three times.”
David Black flew in from Phoenix to greet his wife, Petty Officer 2nd Class Tracye Black. His sign read, “Welcome Home My Li’l Love Bug.” She laughed at the sign and snuggled into his chest.
Among its duties during the deployment, the Shoup conducted operations as part of the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. The Nimitz is expected home before Christmas.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org