It was an emotional day at CFB Esquimalt last week, as the crews of HMCS Edmonton and Brandon were reunited with their families — just in time for Christmas.
Dozens of families hugged and kissed on the jetty Friday morning, many holding welcome home signs for their family members who haven’t been home in 71 days.
“It’s overwhelming. Just seeing the crowd of people, friends and family, everybody here being so warm and welcoming. It’s good to be back,” said Leading Seaman Garret Cross. “The atmosphere in Canada is so different from being down south. I just missed being home.”
Seeing Cross home for the first time in weeks brought tears to his girlfriend Rebecca Greenside’s eyes.
Greenside said the first few weeks after Cross left were difficult, but being able to contact him through email a few times a week helped the time pass.
But now, she’s looking forward to spending some much-needed time with her boyfriend of five years over the holidays.
“It’s really nice to have a full house,” Greenside said.
Malena was also excited to have her husband, Leading Seaman Beau Bennekou, home for Christmas and for him to hold their one-year-old daughter for the first time in weeks.
“It’s amazing (to have him home) because it’s been a long haul with lots of holidays missed,” she said, adding the most challenging part of a deployment is having to play both mother, father and teacher, since her two other children are home schooled.
During the six-week deployment, crews of HMCS Edmonton and Brandon took part in Operation Caribbe. As part of the operation, which is part of a multi-national campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean basin and the eastern Pacific, the ships seized and disrupted roughly 2,820 kilograms of cocaine, while working with the U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement detachments.
“It was a wonderful deployment for us and another success for the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Lucas Kenward, commanding officer of HMCS Edmonton, adding he’s now looking forward to a great holiday with family.
“You’re physically bringing this contraband onto the ship and you know that contraband is no longer going to find its way into the stream in Canada or in the United States . . . Any drugs that we can get off the street are valuable.”
It was as exceptionally special trip for Lt.-Cmdr. Jolene Lisi. This was her first deployment as commanding officer of HMCS Brandon and with Operation Caribbe — one she called a phenomenal experience with tangible results.
Now she’ll prepare for another large task — doing laundry.