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Warm Hearts Melt Frigid Temps at USS North Dakota Homecoming

Warm Hearts Melt Frigid Temps at USS North Dakota Homecoming

Story by CPO Monique Meeks on 02/05/2019

GROTON, Conn. (January 31, 2019) Despite the frigid temperatures that plagued Groton, Connecticut on Jan. 31, there was plenty of warmth to be found pierside at Naval Submarine Base New London as families and loved ones welcomed the crew of USS North Dakota (SSN 784) home from its maiden deployment.

One family, Peter and Tracy Yanez, from Diamondhead, Mississippi, said it was absolutely worth waiting in the -15 wind chill temperatures to see their son, Electronics Technician Seaman (Radio) Zachary Yanez, a third generation military member serving on his first deployment.

Zachary’s father, Peter, a six-year Army veteran, said he could not put into words how it felt to know that his son was continuing on the family’s legacy of military service.

“All you can do is hug him and tell him how proud you are,” said Peter Yanez. “I can’t wait to see him.”

Upon departing the boat, Zachary Yanez was just as happy to see his parents.

Seeing them today, it just really hit me that I’ve been gone for half a year and I’m really glad to be back,” said Zachary Yanez.

Another family, Marco Antonio Garcia and Lastenia Chavez Salvan, drove six days from Michoacan, Mexico to surprise their son, Sonar Technician (Submarine) 3rd Class Jorge Alberto Garcia- Chavez, as he arrived home from his first deployment.

“I did not know they were coming,” said Garcia- Chavez. “I can’t describe the emotions. I just feel so glad that they made it and they’re here to see me.”

Garcia-Chavez has been in the Navy for three years and his parents have never made the trip to Connecticut before.

“Right now I’m just coming back home,” said Garcia-Chavez. “My parents, this is their first time coming to Connecticut, it’s their first time experiencing the snow and the cold, and I’m just so joyful to see them after my long trip. It’s been a long time- six months.”

Family travels weren’t the only surprises awaiting crew members of North Dakota. One wife, Ryan Brennan, planned a gender reveal on the pier at the boat’s homecoming to surprise her husband Ens. Shawn Brennan with the gender of their fourth child.

The Brennans found out they were expecting just three days before Ens. Shawn Brennan deployed on this maiden deployment. Ryan Brennan, currently 22 weeks pregnant, was not planning on finding out the gender of their child but had to do so due to complications and decided to do the gender reveal on the pier.

Ryan Brennan said it is difficult for their three children to be away from their father for the lengthy deployments.

“It’s very hard [waiting for him],” said Ryan Brennan. “The kids are very excited. This is the longest they have been away from Daddy!”

As Ens. Shawn Brennan came off the submarine, the Brennan family opened a large box on the pier revealing a large bunch of pink balloons, announcing to the crowd that they were expecting another girl.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Ens. Shawn Brennan. “We just got home, just found out that we’re going to have another girl. It will be a nice split: 2 girls, 2 boys. It will be busy, but it will be fun.”

The Virginia-class, fast-attack USS North Dakota (SSN 784) spent six months in the European Command Area of Responsibility under the lead of Cmdr. Mark Robinson. The crew executed the Chief of Naval Operation’s Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and Maritime Security Operations.

“The deployment included 68 days of operations which required”the most rigorous attention,”said Robinson,”but the team didn’t blink. They pulled off a very impressive mission which completed one of the highest priorities of the chief of Naval Operations.”

USS North Dakota was awarded the ‘Battle Efficiency E’ award for the submarine most ready to carry out all taskings within the squadron.

North Dakota was commissioned on October 25, 2014 and is the eleventh Virginia-class fast attack submarine. The USS North Dakota is the second Navy vessel named for North Dakota. A battleship of the World War I-era also was named for the state.The crew is made up of approximately 132 people; 15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors.

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