Hundreds of Seabees are spending valuable quality time with their families. On Thursday morning, the last 200 of about 650 NMCB 74 members returned home from a mission that took them to several locations, including Southwest Asia.
For months all Casey Rider's family knew was that the Seabee from upstate New York had deployed to an undisclosed location. On Thursday Mom, Dad, grandparents, sisters, cousins and more were all in Gulfport eager to welcome him back.
"He turned 21 on April 5th so, of course, we're going to celebrate tonight," said Troy Rider, Casey's mother. When asked what were the celebration plans, she said, "Cake, probably a little beer."
NMCB 74 members were greeted by cheers and tears. A lot has happened since they left for Guam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. New babies. Thanksgiving. Christmas.
Commander Craig Prather said, "We were deployed during the most difficult time of year. Pretty much every holiday you can think about, family holiday. We came together as a family. We have a motto: One command, one team, one family. "
The commander says support from families back home helped Seabees accomplish their mission abroad.
"We constructed pretty much everything you can think of from peace time construction to contingency construction," said Com. Prather. "Our Seabees really turned to and did a great job. Anything that Seabees pretty much can do, we did."
For the Rider family, this is the end of an emotional journey. Casey Rider hadn't expected so many relatives to make the trip from New York to welcome him home.
"I shows how much people appreciate you," he said. "Appreciate us and what we do so, great feeling."
As for the birthday beer with mom, Casey Rider said, "It will be a good time. I can't wait."
Military officials say during their deployment the Seabees built bridges, runways, and combat out posts.