NAVAL STATION EVERETT — The Navy destroyer USS Sampson arrived at Naval Station Everett on Monday morning.
As the ship pulled up to the pier, the conductor of the band waited with hands and baton raised. As soon as the first lines were thrown to the pier, the band launched into “Anchors Aweigh,” and the gathering of sailors and about 60 guests on the shore clapped.
Sailors on the ship not working at a duty station stood at the rail, officers and chiefs in service whites, enlisted personnel in dark blue working uniforms.
The Sampson, DDG-102, is the fourth Navy ship to be named after Rear Adm. William T. Sampson, a hero of the Spanish-American War.
The ship also is the second of four Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers scheduled to be based in Everett. The USS Gridley arrived in July, and the USS Kidd is scheduled to arrive later this year. The fourth, the USS Ralph Johnson, is still under construction in Mississippi and won’t arrive until sometime in 2017.
Jennifer Daris waited with her three sons, Aidan, 8, Jason, 6, and Alex, 4. Her husband, David Daris, serves as a chief warrant officer aboard the Sampson.
They moved to Arlington from San Diego about one month ago. The California city was the Sampson’s previous home port.
On the pier, the boys were initially distracted by the barking of seals nearby and other passing ships. “Mom, that’s a trash barge, isn’t it?” Jason asked.
The family’s been through several deployments, Daris said, the longest of which was 18 months, and the toughest on the boys.
“They still really missed him and talked about him a lot, when he was going to be home,” she said. “They’re Daddy’s boys.”
Nearby, Nicole Pickle was standing with her three sons, Joshua, Jeremiah and Nathaniel, ages 12, 10 and 4, all holding “Welcome Home” signs and trying to pick out their father, Chief Petty Officer Phillipp Pickle.
They had already lived in the area for three years when her husband was stationed at Naval Station Everett, she said. He transferred to the Sampson in San Diego in June, so this was a relatively short time for him to be apart from her and the kids.
“It gets more difficult as they get older, which I didn’t anticipate,” Pickle said.
When the ship was secured and the gangway lifted into place, the Sampson’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, stepped ashore to greet his family and visiting dignitaries, including Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, and representatives from the Port of Everett and the state’s congressional delegation.
LaBenz led the VIPs aboard for an official welcome. Then other sailors began to disembark.
Konner Raadgep, 4, was holding a “Hi Daddy” sign upside-down. “I miss Daddy,” he said. “He’s the best!”
Konner’s mother, Samantha Raadgep, scanned the rails with Konner and her other children, Breanna, 5, Molly, 2, and Gwen, 4 weeks old and hidden from the bright sun under a blanket in a carrier.
Her husband, Petty Officer First Class Mike Raadgep, has a distinctive curl to his lips when he smiles, she said.
“There’s Daddy right there. I can see his lips, he’s doing the lip thing!” she said. They waved, but Breanna couldn’t see him, so she pointed him out on the foredeck in his white uniform.
Their father disembarked a few minutes later, and Raadgep said, “Go get him!” Breanna and Konner charged forward into their father’s arms.
Molly ran right past him, prompting her mother to call out to get her to turn around.
“She usually sees him in blues,” Raadgep laughed.
When the whole family finally was reunited, Mike Raadgep peeled back the blanket to kiss his newborn.
The Navy was very accommodating, he said. “I was able to be here for her birth,” he said.
“He got here the night before the C-section,” Samantha Raadgep said.