USS Stennis homecoming takes on new meaning for one family

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 2:11 PM

Thousands of families at Naval Base Kitsap are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the USS John C. Stennis.  The ship is set to return to Bremerton on Friday afternoon. For one sailor, it's much more than a happy homecoming.

It's the first time Lieutenant Michael Lemmons will meet his youngest son.

His wife was about two months pregnant when he deployed back in August.

Lemmons is one of the gunners on the USS Stennis.  His division handles all of the .50 caliber machine guns, their maintenance, and ammunition.

"Well, this was our surprise baby," said Holly Lemmons.  "We had a boy and a girl, so we were done with our family, and then we got a little surprise, and we found out he was going to be born while Michael was deployed, but I think after being married to Michael for sixteen years, I felt like I was an experienced navy wife and navy mom."

She reassured her husband it would all work out, and gave him constant updates on the pregnancy through email and phone calls. 

Now, little Hunter Ethan Lemmons is eight weeks old.

Lieutenant Lemmons has interacted with his baby several times via Skype, but has been counting down the days until he returns home.

Last week, his two older children made the wait a little easier.  They were able to visit him aboard the Stennis, through the navy's "Tiger Cruise" program.

It's the equivalent of a "take your kid to work" day for sailors.  The navy allowed 1100 family members to join the crew aboard for six days and five nights.

"It's awesome to stay here," said Michael Lemmons, Junior.  "But he gets to work here.  He gets paid to do this stuff."

While aboard, Michael and his sister Samantha briefed their dad on everything he's missed at home, including what they like and don't like about their new little brother.

"I love him, but whenever I hold him he'll start crying," Michael said. 

His sister offered up a similar description.

"Me and my brother both just told my dad the baby was fat, that's it.  He's a really fat baby.  He eats every two hours!," she said.

Since the two older kids saw their dad just last week, they say they'll let their mom and Hunter get some quality time in during his first few days home.

Holly Lemmons says Friday can't get here soon enough.

"Hunter is perfect and adorable, and Michael is just going to fall in love with him," she said.  "It's going to be the perfect welcome home present for dad."

The USS Stennis spent the last few months providing air support to troops in Afghanistan. 


 

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