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This Is What It Looks Like When Your Loved Ones Return After Nine Months Of Deployment

Thousands of service members returned to the Norfolk Naval Station after an extended mission in the Middle East.

Posted on November 11, 2014, at 2:47 p.m. ET

1. On Oct. 31, more than 4,000 Navy sailors and Marines returned home to their families following nine months of deployment.

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group — which consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall, and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit — deployed on Feb. 8 for what was supposed to be an eight-month cruise. But the escalating threat of ISIS led Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to extend the Bataan group's deployment in September. Aircraft assigned to the Bataan ARG conducted strikes in Syria and Iraq before returning to Norfolk, Virginia.
MC1(AW/SW) RJ Stratchko / Via Facebook: USSBataan

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group — which consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall, and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit — deployed on Feb. 8 for what was supposed to be an eight-month cruise.

But the escalating threat of ISIS led Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to extend the Bataan group's deployment in September. Aircraft assigned to the Bataan ARG conducted strikes in Syria and Iraq before returning to Norfolk, Virginia.

2. Friends and families waited for their loved ones with signs and smiles on the pier at Norfolk Naval Station.

http://U.S. Navy: USS Bataan / Via Facebook: USSBataan

3. Everyone cheered when the ship was finally moored and the long-awaited reunion was underway.

http://U.S. Navy: USS Bataan / Via Facebook: USSBataan

4. Especially when loved ones began to spot each other in the crowd.

Judith Chauvette / Via Facebook: FreshLookPhotog
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5. A lot can happen when you're deployed for nine months.

6. Some of the returning members of the military met their children for the first time.

http://U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Jessica Kellogg / Released

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8. New fathers are allowed to exit the ship before everyone except the service member chosen for the traditional first kiss.

Courtesy of Daisy Jean Photography / daisyjeanphotography.com / Via Facebook: DaisyJeanPhotography
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9.

10. Of course, all children grow over nine months.

Courtesy of Daisy Jean Photography / daisyjeanphotography.com / Via Facebook: DaisyJeanPhotography

11.

Courtesy of Katie Johnson

12. And even though there are many amazing programs designed to keep deployed families close, it's hard on everyone.

http://U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Jessica Kellogg / Released
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13.

Courtesy of Amanda Gibbons

14. But that makes each homecoming even more special.

Judith Chauvette / Via Facebook: FreshLookPhotog

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http://U.S. Navy MC3 Jackie Hart

16. When you're away from your loved ones for nine months, sometimes things become more clear.

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17.

http://U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Jessica Kellogg / Released

18. But, most of all, homecomings — short or long — are about love.

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Kayla Ocasio / Kaptivated Pixels Photography / Via Facebook: kaptivatedpixelsphotography

20. The love of country that calls men and women to military service.

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21.

22. And the love of family that keeps them going while they're away.

23. Thank you to all the service members and military families.

Courtesy of Katie Johnson
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