Hopper Sailors, families welcome their return to islands

Seaman Frank Cohen, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70), proposes to his girlfriend Brittany Nanas shortly after a traditional “first kiss” upon the ship’s arrival at its homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Johans Chavarro)

05/09/14

By MC3 Johans Chavarro Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii

Friends and family members of the crew from USS Hopper (DDG 70) gathered at the Bravo Piers on May 6 to welcome back the guided-missile destroyer as it returned to its homeport of Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam after completing an eight-month independent deployment to the U.S. 5th and U.S. 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

USS Hopper and its crew of nearly 280 Sailors deployed from Pearl Harbor on Sept. 6, 2013 to conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations.

For the Sailors aboard Hopper, returning to the homeport of Pearl Harbor was a long anticipated and welcome event.

“It’s amazing,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Corey Hoffman. “There’s this tingly feeling, you know? You get the ships blowing their horns, people giving us a ‘hoo-rah,’ saluting us on our way, and everyone cheering when we got here. It was something special. I’ve never felt that before.”

According to Hoffman, the deployment served to show how his individual efforts came to be a part of a bigger effort—one that, along with the contributions of his shipmates, has a global impact.

“It’s interesting to know you took part in a real world impact, that the whole world sees and knows,” said Hoffman. “And you’re like, ‘Oh, hey, I was there. I did that.’ It’s special and I’m glad I did it. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.”

Another Sailor from USS Hopper echoed Hoffman’s sentiments.

“It’s just an emotion I can’t describe,” said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Tiago Thomas. “It’s one of those things where it’s eight months long, then you come back and it just feels worth it. That feeling, I don’t think I’ll ever get doing anything else.”

Despite the excitement by the Sailors, their families and friends, those aboard USS Hopper remained appreciative and proud of their work and their shipmates, who they worked alongside every day during their time at sea.

“It’s a great crew, the best ever I’ve been a part of,” said Thomas. “So it’s definitely been a great experience that we’ve had, nobody I would rather work with than this crew.”

According to Electronics Technician 3rd Class Samuel Chittenden, every Sailor on board Hopper is essential to its mission capability.

“Everyone has an important job on board, and we had a lot of things just go absolutely perfectly,” said Chittenden. “There was nothing that was overwhelming because everyone just came together when they needed to and never missed a mission.”

Hopper’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Dave Snee, said he was proud of the dedication of the crew.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Sailors aboard Hopper during this deployment. They have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty executing our very demanding operational schedule,” said Snee.

“I am also very proud of the families of ‘Hopper Nation’ back home who, through their hard work and
constant devotion, have supported us and enabled us to concentrate on our mission.”

USS Hopper is named after Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, the pioneering computer scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Technology (now known as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation), the highest honor of its type in the United States.

The ship is homeported in Hawaii, assigned to Destroyer Squadron 31 and part of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and U.S. 3rd Fleet.

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