Back from different kind of war


Three months at sea was wiped away in six seconds.

Lori Raihl saw her sailor and started to sprint, leaving the chill of an hour’s wait on Naval Station Everett’s Pier B behind her. It was replaced with the warm embrace of her husband, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Greg Raihl.

And then, the kiss.

Raihl had barely taken two steps off the USS Shoup when his wife wrapped him up, closed her eyes and gave him the game winner. The couple won the "first kiss" raffle contest for the warship’s homecoming, resulting in a six-second smooch that was a two-person prize.

"I think all the wives deserve to have a first kiss. But I’ll take it for them," Lori Raihl said with a laugh.

The Shoup returned to Everett on Thursday from a 94-day deployment to fight drug runners along the coast of Mexico and Central and South America. The deployment was the first for the Shoup, a guided-missile destroyer with a crew of roughly 380.

A crowd of more than 200 was on hand for the homecoming.

Joy Thomas was one of the early arrivals.

With her two daughters in tow, Madie, 7, and Lily, 8 months, she scanned Port Gardner searching for the Shoup, which was almost hidden in the dull gray mist of morning.

When she sighted the ship, Thomas pulled out a bright red cell phone and called her husband, Lt. j.g. Brian Thomas, to ask where he was standing on deck.

Thomas has been in the Navy 12 years, and the couple have been married for nine. The deployment has been the longest time they’ve been apart, but Joy Thomas said she made it through with the help of good neighbors and friends. E-mail kept the couple in almost daily contact.

"E-mail has been fantastic. It’s almost like getting a card every day. And you know how guys write nice things in cards?" she asked.

"Saturday mornings are the hardest," Joy Thomas added. "There’s time to think when you wake up alone, unlike getting-kids-ready weekdays and church-filled Sundays. "It’s nice to have your best friend home again."

She had another 30 minutes to wait, though, before the billion-dollar warship pulled next to the pier. She bounced baby Lily in her arms as her ship and her sailor inched closer and the Lakewood High School Band played "Anchors Aweigh" for the second time.

"I’m excited for him to see her. She wasn’t even sitting up when he left," Joy Thomas said of Lily.

Madie soon spotted her father. She bounced up and down like she was on an invisible pogo stick saying, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"

When Thomas stepped off the gangplank, his daughter ran through the crowd. She jumped almost 2 feet into the air, and her dad caught her in a full hug.

Thomas kissed his wife, then stared, smiling, at his baby daughter for many long moments.

"The kids have grown," he said after the reunion, pausing again to look at his youngest child. "This one sort of walks now. Look at how much she’s changed."

Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or

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