VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It's always a wonderful time for military families when their loved ones come back from deployment and this time was no exception, especially for a golden retriever named Duke.
He was extremely excited to greet Capt.Trevor Estes who was deployed with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group for seven months. Estes is Commander, Carrier Air Wing Three. The Ike and other ships in the strike group left Naval Station Norfolk in January just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
As excited as Estes' human family members were to have him return, their excitement couldn't compete with Duke's. As soon as Duke went outside of the family's home in Virginia Beach, he ran straight to Estes to show the captain how much he missed him.
Estes' son, Hunter, said Duke has been in the family for nearly two years.
"The whole family was ecstatic to have my dad back. Even after 25 years and multiple deployments that much time from home is tough," Hunter said. "He and his sailors are definitely coming back to a different world, but we’re glad to have him home safe!"
“I truly hope that every member of this team has the opportunity they deserve to relax and enjoy time with family and friends post deployment," said Estes in a U.S. Navy press release. "In the end, I want the team to know how thankful I am for them every day.”
As for its record-breaking time at sea, Capt. Kyle Higgins, Commanding Officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, said the ship eliminated port visits due to the coronavirus pandemic. The strike group was forced to spend 206 consecutive days at sea. Sailors didn't step foot off the ship until Aug. 9 when they returned to Naval Station Norfolk.
The previous record was held by USS Theodore Roosevelt. The aircraft carrier set that one in 2002 when it spent 160 consecutive days at sea.