“It’s my boy,” Zachary Funk of Biloxi said Sunday as he cuddled his 2-month-old son Kainan, who was wearing camouflage just like his daddy.
Funk emerged from one of five bus loads of Seabees who returned Sunday to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and hurried to find his wife, Kathy, and his new baby in the crowd of people holding signs and wiping tears.
“I’m just glad to be home finally,” he said as he held his baby for the first time.
Several new babies were among the hundreds of family and friends welcoming home the first of three flights of Seabees from NBCB 133 after six-month deployments in 39 countries throughout the world.
Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Parnell held his young son Jack while his wife, Lindsay, waited as he answered reporters’ questions about the mission.
Jack is about 18 months old, “and he does remember me as you can see,” Parnell told the reporters. “He’s saying Da-da.”
The Seabees supported missions of the Navy's 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th fleets in Africa, Europe and Guam, including construction, humanitarian assistance and civic action, said Parnell. “These men and women have done an excellent job out there.”
Those at home also performed admirably. Nicole Mullenix, who moved from Kansas to South Mississippi a year ago, intended to have her husband, Russell Mullenix, with her on Skype when she gave birth six weeks ago. “Everything went too quickly,” she said. “Awesome,” was all he could say as he held cradled his son, Titus Mullenix.
Mikel Colby was crushed in a group hug by his fiance, Brittany Alton, and children Ethan, Kenzie and Kai as he got his first look at his new 4-month-old daughter, Koralinne. He’s kept up with the family and the new baby from Spain with lots of pictures. “My entire phone is full of them,” he said.
T-shirts with “Daddy’s little Seabee” and “He’s not just my daddy, he’s my hero” messages added to the welcome. Signs made by family lined the road as the buses pulled onto the base, so it was the first thing the Seabees saw.
They didn’t stay long and went home in cars with “Welcome home daddy” decorating the windows.