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My daddy's home

Chuck Rice Jr., left enjoyed a piece of cake with his sailor/dad Chuck Sr. as parents from the carrier USS Carl Vinson and supply ship USS Sacramento enjoyed a lunch date with their kids at Jackson Park Elementary School on Monday. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Chuck Rice Jr., left enjoyed a piece of cake with his sailor/dad Chuck Sr. as parents from the carrier USS Carl Vinson and supply ship USS Sacramento enjoyed a lunch date with their kids at Jackson Park Elementary School on Monday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

When Machinist’s Mate Jack Huber was deployed on the USS Carl Vinson, his daughter Emily was in kindergarten, and his youngest daughter was just learning to talk.

“My youngest is a chatterbox now,” Huber said. She turned 3 years old during his eight-month deployment about the nuclear carrier. Emily is now in the first grade. She had lunch with her dad Monday afternoon at Jackson Park Elementary. The school hosted a welcome back lunch for parents returning with the supply ship USS Sacramento and Vinson.

Of the 120 parents, about 90 were expected to attend at least one of the school’s three lunches, officials said.

The homecoming lunch was a open house of sorts to help parents get acquainted with their child, or in many cases, their child’s teacher. The returning parents also got one of many opportunities to get reacquainted with their families.

“It’s gone better than I expected,” Huber said of the return home. The Vinson pulled into port at Naval Station Bremerton Friday Sept. 19. The school lunch, Huber said, was a neat idea. He spent two lunch periods there, one with Emily and one with Madeline, a third grader.

Red, white and blue balloons decorated the lunch room. Students munched on chicken nuggets and parents had pizza.

Six-year-old Aric Staley hugged his dad Radar Technician Todd Staley and they joked with each other. Many of the children skipped school Friday to welcome family members home officials said.

“The kids crawl all over him,” said Amy Staley. The calls for mom have now become those for dad, which is a relief, she said.

And the longer-than-usual separation is finally over.

“It was hard. E-mail helped a lot,” Amy said.

Their three boys ages 6, 8, and 10 have each celebrated a birthday during the deployment. Each boy got to eat lunch with dad.

Each parent was called and invited to the event said Shirley Kenmochi, Jackson Park principal.

Last time the Vinson came home, the school hosted an assembly, but it didn’t give parents much of a chance to visit with their children, she said. Last week the students made banners to decorate the lunch room.

Dexter Montgomery, an air traffic controller for the Vinson had lunch with sons Dexter, a third grader and Daniel, a kindergartner.

Montgomery spent most of his time aboard ship studying, working and reading.

Back at home on Sunday the family went to the Olympic Game Reserve. He’s noticed Dexter II has a larger vocabulary than before. He attended his son’s lunch “to support him in his schooling.”

Montgomery was at a loss for words to explain the feeling of coming home.

“I don’t think I can explain it. It’s awesome,” Montgomery said.

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