Lt. Brian McGuirk was welcomed back to Hawaii yesterday by his girlfriend, Lori Kensel.

Pearl Harbor-based
sub fired first
salvo in Iraq

Navy Cmdr. Doty says it was
'dumb luck' that the Cheyenne
fired the first missiles

Navy Cmdr. Charles Doty says "it was pure dumb luck" that his Pearl Harbor-based nuclear submarine USS Cheyenne fired the first salvo in the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Minutes after the 360-foot smoky-gray sub docked at Pearl Harbor's Sierra One Bravo pier yesterday, Doty said he did not realize that his boat had been picked to fire the first Tomahawk cruise missiles on March 19.

"I never fired a missile before," Doty told Adm. Walter Doran, Pacific Fleet commander. "I just hope it works."

Later discussing the historic mission with reporters, Doran said he did not realize the significance of that moment in the Persian Gulf until four days later.

"There is no second chance," Doran added as he recapped the moment. "In my mind I told myself, 'I hope this system works,' and it did."

Doran would not say how many 18-foot-long Tomahawk missiles he fired that day or what their targets were, except to say that "there were multiple launches." However, Doty displayed a broom on the sail of the Cheyenne, which Navy officials said signified "all ordnance delivered on target -- a clean sweep."

The USS Cheyenne entered Pearl Harbor yesterday with a giant lei draped over the tower. The Pearl Harbor-based nuclear submarine fired the first salvo in the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Los Angeles-class subs, like the Cheyenne, are known to carry at least two dozen missiles and have 12 vertical launch tubes.

Doty said there is about two to three seconds after the order to launch is given before anything seems to happen on the 6,900-ton war machine.

"And you think, 'Is the weapon really going to leave the tube?' " he added. "Then the person on the scope reports missile away ... and there is this feeling of relief."

Besides launching the first Tomahawk strikes in the current war against Iraq, the Cheyenne also participated in one of the longest deployments since the Vietnam War. It left Pearl Harbor on July 31 on what was supposed to be a routine six-month deployment to the western Pacific with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group, but its tour was extended to nearly nine months because of the current Iraq offensive.

Its homecoming yesterday was one of the most festive and emotional events at Pearl Harbor in recent years, with a greeting party made up of Navy brass, Hawaii politicians like Sen. Dan. Akaka and several from Wyoming, and letters of congratulations from the mayor of Cheyenne and Wyoming's governor.

Tomorrow, the Lincoln will make a quick stop at Pearl Harbor before completing its final leg to its home port in the state of Washington. Returning with the Lincoln will be the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS Paul Hamilton, with the frigate USS Reuben James, also from Hawaii, pulling in on the following day.

Holly Green found her son, ET1 Nick Green, in the crowd yesterday and was excited to take him to see his grandmother. They had not seen him for a year and a half.

For the families of the 130 sailors assigned to the Cheyenne, the prolonged deployment was agonizing.

Martie Raper, whose husband, Petty Officer Terry Raper, is a communication specialist on the Cheyenne, said she was "both scared and excited -- scared because I was worried that they might get shot at. ... But when I heard on the news that the Cheyenne had fired the first shot, my heart thumped."

Andi Brabec described the past nine months as "very hard, but we made it." She and Lt. Jim Farrow plan to celebrate by getting married June 20 in Oklahoma City.

Rachel Lopez said her husband, Petty Officer Reynaldo Lopez III, spent only two weeks with their daughter, Alanna, before he had to report to the Cheyenne.

"The last months have been rough," Rachel Lopez added, "since I was alone with her."

But all those moments will be forgotten, Martie Raper said, if the Navy tailors at Pearl Harbor can get her husband's short dinner dress whites altered in time for tonight's annual submariner's formal ball at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Two weeks ago she picked out a black dress adorned with pearls for tonight's soiree.

Then the couple plan to spend the weekend relaxing in Waikiki.

Doty's weekend plans call for lying in his hammock and playing with his sons, Peter, 4, Matthew, 6, and Christopher, 8.

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