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Frigate Elrod returns to Norfolk from final deployment

NORFOLK, Va. -- When Chief Quartermaster David Worthey stepped off the frigate Elrod on Friday, he walked a step closer to life beyond the Navy.

Aboard the Elrod, Worthey completed his last deployment before retirement.

As Melissa Worthey waited for her husband to get off the ship at Norfolk Naval Station, a message popped up on her phone.

"Are we there yet?" her husband asked.

"Not soon enough for me," she replied.

Worthey wasn't the only one deploying for the last time.

The old, gray frigate Elrod will be decommissioned in 2015, signifying its last scheduled run.

The Elrod is to be sold to a foreign ally after it is decommissioned.

During their six-month deployment, the Elrod crew visited Greece, Portugal and Italy. They built partnerships in Morocco and Tunisia, and the crew helped the amphibious assault ship Bataan in the rescue of 282 people in the Mediterranean Sea.

For the seamen aboard the Elrod, the deployment and their homecoming were still filled with first moments. Families waited patiently for their sailors, waving handmade signs that said, "Missed me. Missed me. Now you gotta kiss me!" and "Welcome home, daddy."

Petty Officer 2nd Class Clinton Drewery kissed his wife before scooping up his toddler in his arms. It was Drewery's first deployment since the couple had their baby, Evangeline. It'll be the first time the sailor will hear his daughter call him "Daddy" in person.

"She recognizes her daddy's voice, but not his face yet," said Aislinn Drewery, the sailor's wife. "She wasn't talking before he left, and now she can call him 'Da-Da.' "

The Wortheys have experienced it all as a military family.

Through 11 deployments and more than 20 years of service, they've mastered the balancing act of loving each other and loving the military.

David Worthey and his wife said they have been honored to put the Navy first all of these years, but they're excited for the next adventure.

"This decommission and his retirement, this isn't a sad thing," Melissa said. "This is a time of transition and a time of adventure."

kara.driscoll@pilotonline.com

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