CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Thousands of family members and friends crowded the pier at Naval Air Station North Island on April 20 to welcome home the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) following a three-month deployment in support of operations in the Western Pacific.
The more than 5,000 Sailors assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7, Destroyer Squadron 7, Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit 11, Det. 15, and Carrier Air Wing 14 that comprise the Reagan (CSG) deployed Jan. 27 under the Navy's Fleet Response Plan, which provides the United States with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces, and the ability to rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice.
Ronald Reagan filled in for the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, serving in the U.S. 7th Fleet's area of responsibility (AOR), as it underwent scheduled maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.
Rear Adm. Charles W. Martoglio, commander of the Reagan CSG said he was extremely pleased with the strike group's significant demonstration of America's commitment to security and stability in the Western Pacific.
"Our Sailors were the key to these presence operations. They demonstrated superb readiness, tactical proficiency and seamless integration across the spectrum of operations," he said.
Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, said he couldn't be more proud of his crew.
"Their ability to respond on short notice was simply eye-watering. We accomplished every mission while in the 7th Fleet AOR and were good ambassadors at each and every port call," Kraft added.
During their time in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR, the Reagan CSG participated in joint exercises with the Republic of Korea (ROK) as well as the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). The ship also hosted distinguished visitors from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The Reagan CSG also participated in Exercise Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration/Foal Eagle (RSOI/FE) 2007, annual exercise designed to provide training for ROK and U.S. forces in the various aspects of reception, staging, onward movement, and integration as well as focusing on rear area security and sustainment operations.
According to Capt. Sean O'Connor, Lake Champlain's commanding officer, his crew spearheaded multiple exercises with the ROK and JMSDF, from helicopter operations to complex air defense exercises during the deployment.
"My crew understood that this deployment was necessary to support our nation's efforts in the war on terrorism," said O'Connor. "Their pride and professionalism is reflected in the outstanding material condition of 'Champ' as we return to homeport, and by the many new ESWS [Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist] pins gracing the uniforms of over 20 crew members."
O'Connor and his Sailors agree that as good as it felt to serve their country throughout our most recent operations, it feels better to be home with their families again.
"After completing a deployment it always feels good to be home with your family and friends," said Storekeeper 2nd Class (SW) Raymond Skelton from Conroe, Texas. "I am really looking forward to some relaxation and spending time with my family."
The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan made several port calls during the three-month deployment including stops in Sasebo, Japan; Hong Kong; Busan, Republic of Korea and Pearl Harbor. During these port visits, more than 600 Sailors volunteered their off-duty time in 23 community relations projects, including visits to orphanages and elderly care homes. The ship also raised more than $116,000 during the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society Fund Drive for 2007.
More than 500 friends and family members of the crew also arrived in Coronado after they had joined the crew of Ronald Reagan in Pearl Harbor on April 13, for a "Tiger Cruise" on the last leg of the deployment.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan visit, www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.