USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Twenty-eight Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) were able to communicate with their families in Norfolk, Va. during a video teleconference (VTC) July 23.
The VTC marked the first time deployed crew members and their families back home could see and hear one another in semi-real time since the aircraft carrier left homeport May 21.
The service members seemed to appreciate the chance to see their families' reactions and expressions as they exchanged stories about deployment and life at home, said Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Loran Bather.
"I saw Sailors coming out beaming with smiles," said Bather. "I could tell they had ten minutes of time well-spent. You can e-mail your family and talk to them on the phone, but having them right in front of you makes it that much more special."
Chief Electronics Technician (SW) Elizabeth Barnes coordinated the "watch bill" for crew members who wanted to participate in the VTC conference on a first-come, first-serve basis. She then communicated the scheduled times to Truman's Family Readiness Group (FRG) in Norfolk, who used the FRG building on base to set up corresponding times for the family members.
"It went really smoothly, and the Sailors who participated Friday were so appreciative. I don't think I've seen so many ear-to-ear smiles," said Barnes. "They were filled with so much energy."
After a more than two-month separation, Sailors and Marines were grateful for the 10-minute opportunity to catch up with their loved ones.
"I'm still walking on cloud nine," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Lashandrea Young. "It was such a pleasure to be able to talk to my husband and my kids. We got to catch up on things I've missed in the last few months, and it re-charged me on focusing on the task at hand. Seeing them and talking to them is a reminder of the reason I'm out here."
"Events like these keep us and our families motivated," Bather added. "We're going to take every opportunity we can to give back to the families supporting us at home. I can't wait until the next FRG meeting to get some feedback from the families who participated in the video teleconferences. Sailors and Marines need these outlets so they don't get burnt out at work. I can see how this program can help them to stay focused on the mission."
"I know we can sometimes get too caught up in work to remember what's important to us, and this is such an excellent way for us to regain our focus," said Young.
Bather and Barnes said they hope to run the program weekly or bi-weekly in the future, depending on the availability of the FRG's facilities.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.