BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton's Chief Mess gave a heartfelt reception to welcome back one of their own at Seattle Tacoma (SEATAC) International Airport, June 10.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Holly Crabtree, rehabilitating after being severely wounded by an enemy sniper while supporting operations in Iraq in April 2010, was greeted with a hero's welcome.
The event was arranged by Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) Command Master Chief Frank Dominguez and Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Tom Countryman, and closely coordinated with Port of Seattle Aviation Security, Port of Seattle Police Department and the Transportation Security Administration.
"We've been looking forward for her arrival all week. It is just an honor to assist to welcome Chief Crabtree. We're blessed to have her home. It's hard not to be emotional about this, because usually when we render honors, it's for those who have fallen," said Port of Seattle Sgt. Doug Newman, Office of Professional Accountability, and the 2011 Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year of Navy Reserve National Security Forces, Naval Base Kitsap, Wash.
As the flight was taxiing into place after landing, Port of Seattle Fire Department gave ceremonial twin water cannon shots across the plane brow. Once the plane door opened, Master Chiefs Dominguez and Countryman accompanied family of Crabtree onto the plane to greet her and escort her into the terminal. Once inside SEATAC, the NHB chief petty officers stood in formation and rendered salutes, followed by shared smiles and warm applause by Port of Seattle staff members and fellow passengers.
"This is completely unexpected and so awesome. What's up my brothers and sisters!" Crabtree exclaimed as she acknowledged the Chief's Mess.
"Holly will remember this event for the rest of her life and know that you all have her back here in the Pacific Northwest. It was truly an honor welcoming one of our own home from the battlefield. I continue to be awed with the character of the Mess and you all show its true strength everyday. I will cherish today's moment for the rest of my life," said Dominguez.
"We are so pleased and happy to be able to do this," added Deborah Miller, Port of Seattle Aviation Security Supervisor.
Crabtree, a Port Angeles, Wash., native, was accompanied on the inbound flight from Florida by her daughter, Leah. She is transferring to NHB. Crabtree sustained injuries on patrol with Army Civil Affairs attached to Special Operations task Force West near Ar Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar Province. Despite a lengthy rehabilitation process, Crabtree has not been held back; she participated in the 2011 Wounded Warrior Games 2011, threw out the first pitch at a University of South Florida baseball game, and met with members of the New Orleans Saints.
There were also several of Crabtree's former shipmates in attendance from her time aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), which is homeported at Naval Station Everett. Along with Countryman were retired Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Bee Rose, and Lt. Jeremy Howell, acting Department of Administration head.
"We were on a first name basis as young corpsmen from 2001 to 2004. Holly was an operating room technician and I was a general service corpsman. We also were at Independent Duty Corpsman school together, and I last saw her when I was commissioned in 2008," Howell explained. "I'm very happy to be able to take part in welcoming her here."
"This has been without a doubt one of the coolest events I've ever been part of in all my time serving in the Navy," said Chief Hospital Corspman Michael Musset, leading chief petty officer of Nursing Services. "Like all of us, I'm glad and honored to be here to welcome one of our own home."
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