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Welcome home Gray Wolves

As other children spot their dads and moms out of the crowd of returning VAQ-142 sailors and start running toward them, 7-year-old Sammy Walls waves a yellow pom-pom, whooping and hollering.

Sammy tells a little boy standing next to him that his dad isn’t coming home on this plane; he’s already home. Sammy said he just came to see the festivities and watch other families reunite.

“I just like to see all the people come and be happy,” Sammy said.

Sammy’s mother, Nadine Marcos, is an ombudsman’s wife and brought Sammy out to support the squadron families as they greeted the returning Gray Wolves on April 8. She, however, didn’t have to do much coaxing to get Sammy out there.

After watching families greet their loved ones on the tarmac, in front of a hangar at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Sammy tries to hurry his mother back into the hangar where newly reunited families and friends exchange news, hold each other, acquaint themselves with new babies and reacquaint themselves with their little ones.

“We might see more dads!” he said, trying to motivate his mother into following him further into the hangar.

The VAQ-142 Grey Wolves retuned home on Friday, after a six-month deployment to Iwakuni, Japan.

During those six months, the squadron participated in joint exercises with Japan and South Korea, assiasted in tsunami relief, carried out their assigned missions and added flight hours to their current total of 11,750 hours of recorded Class-A mishap free flight hours.

Christy Mclean said these past six months went by slowly for her and her two children, Zaire, 3, and Zaria, 1.

Mclean said her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Rohan Mclean, had never left for six months before. She said she wasn’t sure if her daughter Zaria would remember him, but that her son couldn’t wait to see him again.

And from the looks of it, neither could she.

“I think I’m going to cry,” she said.

She said when she got her husband home that night, she wanted to cook him a nice dinner and enjoy his presence.

Tanisha Lowery said she was also looking forward to spending time with her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Darren Lowery Sr.

“It’s his birthday today,” she said.

In her arms she held 16-month-old Darren Lowery Jr., who got to see his dad in Japan two months ago.

Lowery said she she was glad she had the opportunity to visit her husband during his deployment, and that, though Darren Jr. has grown a lot in the past two months, his father only has to adjust to a few months of growth, rather than six months of growth.

With all the commotion of families greeting each other in the hangar, retuning single men and women tried slipping between them to leave, get to friends or gather together in little knots of their own.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Chelberg, 22, said it is hard to come off a plane, after a six months away and not have anyone there to greet you.

But he said he told his family, who live in Wisconsin, not to come so he could save his leave. In May, Chelberg plans to go home for his brother’s high school graduation.

Overall, the homecoming of VAQ-142 went off without a hitch, and quite a few families left the hangar with the loved ones they had missed so much during the past six months.

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