Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Destroyer Benfold back after 7-month deployment

Jan. 13, 2013 - 09:57PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 13, 2013 - 09:57PM  |  
Sailors aboard the destroyer Benfold manned the rails Jan. 11 as the ship approached Naval Base San Diego, wrapping up a seven-month Ballistic Missile Defense independent deployment. The deployment was originally scheduled for eight months.
Sailors aboard the destroyer Benfold manned the rails Jan. 11 as the ship approached Naval Base San Diego, wrapping up a seven-month Ballistic Missile Defense independent deployment. The deployment was originally scheduled for eight months. (Gidget Fuentes / Staff)
  • Filed Under

SAN DIEGO — Clutching bouquets of roses and white towels commemorating their deployment, sailors aboard the destroyer Benfold nervously waited to reunite with their loved ones Friday afternoon, just in time for the weekend.

The ship's crew and families had another reason to celebrate: Their homecoming came a month earlier than expected when the ship left Naval Base San Diego on June 15 for an eight-month independent deployment to the U.S. Central Command region.

While operating in the Persian Gulf, Benfold learned in late November that the Navy decided to trim a month off the deployment. The destroyer spent most of its deployment in the gulf, providing ballistic missile defense to the U.S. and its allies in the region as part of the Navy's global BMD mission.

Word of the shortened, seven-month deployment initially arrived to mixed reviews.

"A lot of them were disappointed ... because we had a good thing going," said Cmdr. Richard LeBron, Benfold's skipper, speaking on the bridge as the ship, off Point Loma, prepared to make course for the channel into San Diego Bay.

For five-and-a-half months, Benfold operated in the Gulf as the crew focused on the high-demand BMD mission while also supporting numerous maritime security operations and theater security cooperation exercises in the region. "That's a point of pride with the crew," LeBron said.

Still, he added, "we are all excited to come home."

A few miles away, his wife and six children waited with other Benfold families in the crowd of several hundred gathered on Pier 2.

Lt. j.g. William Hughes, the ship's navigator, could barely contain his joy at the early return home from deployment, his first.

"I've been married less than a year," said Hughes.

He and his bride tied the knot just a month before he deployed, and an eight-month deployment would have meant they'd have to spend their anniversary and probably Valentine's Day apart.

Hughes had another surprise for his wife when they'd reunite on the pier. "I lost 20 pounds," he said, crediting the weight loss to a new physical-training routine that included running and a variety of exercises.

Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Elvira Lawson said she made the most of her first deployment, too, spending her down time reading, watching movies and getting off ship during liberty ports, like a trip where she got to ride camels in the desert. She's especially proud of her advancement to second class.

As she "manned the rails" as Benfold inched closer to the pier, Lawson, with several rose bouquets in her arms, looked forward to taking a month of leave to see her family in Los Angeles and San Diego-area friends with a Christian fellowship group. Several greeted her with a large "Welcome Home" banner, proclaiming, "We Missed You!"

Lawson, 25, recalled how the expected eight-month deployment seemed like a lifetime away from home. "Now that I'm coming home, it's not as long," she said, chuckling. "It's a great humbling experience. ... You realize what you don't have."

Answers sponsored by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Top TA & GI Bill schools
Most popular colleges cater to troops by taking classes to them

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook