Amphibious battle group returns home to San Diego

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CORONADO, Calif. – Some sailors and Marines of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group started returning to San Diego after a 7-month deployment.

Clarence Wehman drove into San Diego from Texas over the weekend to surprise his granddaughter Kirsten, who is coming home with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23.

“We sat on the edge of the runway and we had our binoculars out to watch the helicopters. We tried to pick her out, but everybody looks the same,” laughed Wehman.

Wehman told Fox 5 he’s familiar with homecomings.

“I was in the air force, my brother’s in the air force. We are a military family,” said Wehman.

On Wednesday, the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, dock landing ship USS Comstock and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego will arrive at Naval Base San Diego, carrying troops of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

After setting sail from San Diego July 25, the sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG conducted strikes on Islamic State targets in the Middle East, moved a team of National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration researchers out of the path of a tropical storm near Hawaii and took part in numerous exercises.

“We've had a very intense deployment that required us to execute multiple mission sets simultaneously for long periods of time,'' said Capt. Steve McKone, commander of Amphibious Squadron 5.

During the deployment, the ARG transited nearly 35,000 nautical miles, flew about 3,100 sorties and logged nearly 5,020 flight hours. Amphibious craft completed over 4,000 passenger transfers and moved more than 90,000 tons of equipment to and from the shore, according to the Navy.

Brittney Kelly came all the way from Italy to welcome home her boyfriend who was serving on HSC 23.

“It was a rough flight, I flew for a whole 24 hours yesterday,” said Kelly. “This is his first deployment and he’s done an amazing job, just from the things he’s been telling me.”

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