GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Sunday was a hot day, and an even warmer reception, for the nearly 200 Seabees returning home after a long deployment. As hard as the time apart was for the families, the homecoming was just as sweet.
The welcome home signs at the entrance to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport guided the way back after six-months.
Penny Seals drove 12 hours from Indiana to welcome back her son Steven after his first deployment. The hour or so more at the drop off point was no problem for her.
"My husband was....in the Navy for 20 years, so I dealt with him on deployment while the kids were really young," Seals said. "I know what it's like to have someone deployed, but it's not like your son being deployed."
NMCB 133 conducted operations in 39 countries and supported 12 exercises to strengthen security. Sailors also had dozens of construction projects.
It was also a first-time experience for Taylor Maddox of California with her husband, Joseph.
"It's been pretty hard. I mean, with two kids chasing them around," Maddox said. "I don't think they'll get any easier, but I think this one's going to have a lot of conversations about his experiences."
It was the second deployment for Karen Blackburn's son, Jesse.
"It does not get any easier," Blackburn said. "And with the way the world is, and you just don't ever know what they're going to have to do, it's worrisome."
But for now, they are back home.
"It's great. I mean I've been gone for a while so I love it," said Steven Seals. "Good to see the parents and it's cool to see everyone else."
Jesse Blackburn says the role he plays is important.
"It's just a duty I feel like every young male and every young human being growing up in this society should give back to."