GALVESTON—It was a much anticipated reunion for 80 crew members and their loved ones as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless made its way into Galveston Tuesday morning.
The crew had been at sea since early November.
The Crew missed Thanksgiving and Christmas, but on Tuesday there were plenty of smiles and hugs to go around.
A fly-over by the a USCG Chopper, balloons and welcome home banners ushered in the vessel.
"[I'm] just happy to be home," said Jeffrey Smith, USCG Yeoman.
Smith was all smiles as he hugged his two little boys. This year was especially tough.
"I missed both my boys' birthdays. I missed my wife's graduation from college. I missed Thanksgiving and missed Christmas," Smith said.
To top it off, Smith is celebrating his birthday. His wife, Theresa, has a lot in store for the days ahead.
"[We're going to] celebrate their birthdays," she said. "We're going to open all our Christmas gifts. We have a lot of catching up to do."
During those weeks at sea, the crew members were protecting U.S. waters from illegal activity like drugs and keeping an eye out for undocumented immigrants.
Captain Jim Andrews said they encountered some rough seas while on their mission, yet they created fond memories.
"We had Thanksgiving underway and we had Christmas Santa swap underway, so we're kind of like another family here when we're out [at sea]," Andrews said.
As the crew can tell you, nothing beats being home with loved ones.
Even though they missed out on Thanksgiving and Christmas, they will be together to ring in a new year. The crew will be home for the next couple of months before they head back out to sea for another mission.