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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — More than 5,000 military members returned to San Diego this weekend following a seven-month deployment around the world.

The U.S. Navy sailors and Marines make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which deployed Nov. 10 following a pre-deployment sequester and back-to-back at-sea exercises in October.

“I’m going to hug him, and remind him in 2014 I got the first hug,” said Izzy Gurrola, as she prepared to see her dad.

The long-awaited return was extra special for the handful of families who were allowed to wait for their loved ones on the pier. COVID-19 restrictions still only allow for a certain number of people in the area.

Some of the families held new babies who were waiting to meet their dads for the first time.

“The end goal was him coming home, so that was something to look forward to. That’s basically what kept me going, you know. Being a mom, you don’t get breaks so you gotta push through no matter what,” new mom Julia Post said.

It’s safe to say the sailors and marines are overjoyed to be back in the arms of their loved ones.

“Oh it’s awesome, this is the best part of deployment. All of it is worth it, it’s the best part right here,” said Paul Gurrola.

The Makin Island ARG is made up of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego and USS Somerset and led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron THREE.

They returned to San Diego following a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. During the deployment, sailors and Marines supported Operation Octave Quartz in Somalia, Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsals in Kuwait and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Exercise Northern Edge 2021 in Alaska.

The ARG-MEU conducted more than 10,000 hours of flight operations, 6,800 launch and recoveries, and traveled more than 135,000 nautical miles of open ocean and restricted water transits.