Home from the Gulf
Destroyers return toBy Susan Kreifels
Pearl Harbor with nearly
1,000 grateful soldiers
Fireman Jean Walter Rempart was in the Persian Gulf last November when his first child was born. His ship, the USS Fletcher, was headed toward conflict with Iraq, and little daughter, Jazmin, was headed toward an incubator after a difficult birth.
The stress of the political situation and the birth kept mom, Karlee Rempart, in the hospital longer.
But today, the family was reunited and the six-month separation and Tomahawk missile strike against Iraq were things of the past.
"I'm feeling great," Jean Walter Rempart said at his homecoming at Pearl Harbor this morning. "I was daydreaming every day" about Jazmin.
But he admits it was stressful during this deployment. "Everything happened at once. We were constantly on our toes."
Nearly 1,000 sailors returned today aboard the Pearl Harbor-based destroyers USS Fletcher, USS Hopper and USS Hamilton. All launched Tomahawk missile strikes as part of Operation Desert Fox last December. They were supporting United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
Karlee Rempart was pier-side waiting with seven other mothers who had babies while their husbands were aboard the Fletcher since Aug. 21. Stacy Lucas, 4, was there, in her new red sparkly shoes and yellow socks that her dad, Master Chief Richard Lucas, bought her for Christmas while aboard the Fletcher.
She didn't eat breakfast this morning because she was so excited. "I'm going to show him my balloons," she said impatiently.
The sailors got a present, too.
Jerry MacArthur Hultin, Undersecretary of the Navy, who was assigned to a ship here in 1964-65, was pierside with good news. The Navy will reduce the time spent on training, exercise and inspections by 25 percent while sailors are at home.
Hultin said the Navy and Marine Corps are seeing more deployments as troublespots around the world call them to duty.
"When they're at home, we're trying to eliminate the red tape and B.S. and give them a chance to live closer to a normal life," Hultin said.
Hultin is here escorting Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore. She plans to meet with Navy families tonight.
Hultin said the Navy is using more technology to cut down time "swabbing the heads and doing kitchen duty" and give them more time on the high-tech jobs they have been trained for.