USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Hosts Family Reunion at Sea

Two Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) were reunited with family aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during a cross-deck between the two ships March 23.

The Eisenhower is relieving the Stennis after a 7-month deployment to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility. Since the Eisenhower is scheduled to remain on station until early summer, this served as a good opportunity for the family members to spend time with one another.

The Stennis Sailors who made the trip were Chief Warrant Officer 4 Charles Byrd and Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class (AW) Vanessa Bernat. Byrd was reunited with his daughter Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Tamra Byrd and Bernat met her sister, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (AW) Brandi Bernat.

The “Providers” of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9’s Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 brought the Stennis Sailors to Eisenhower. All of the Sailors involved appreciated the effort to make the reunion happen.

“It is a great feeling to be able to see (my daughter),” said Byrd. “This isn’t something you expect to do while deployed. Even though it’s not long, this time we have together is better than nothing at all.”

Some Sailors who were reunited hadn’t seen each other for a long time, so the opportunity served as a very emotional event.

“It’s been about three years since I have seen my sister,” said Brandi Bernat with tears in her eyes. “We went to boot camp and even A-school together, but then I went to the East Coast and she went to the West Coast. I’m so excited to be seeing her.”

After meeting in the air transfer office for a short brief, each Sailor was able to take their family member around to their spaces on the ship for some quality time. While the visit was only 45 minutes long, everyone involved was smiling from ear-to-ear with excitement by the end.

“This feeling is truly indescribable,” said Vanessa Bernat. “You never think it’s possible for this to happen. It is very rare for siblings serving in different commands to be reunited in these circumstances. I am very honored to be a part of something like this.”

Many of the Sailors involved did not find out about the reunion until the morning of March 23, so the surprise made the event all the more enjoyable.

“This is my daughter, that’s my girl,” said Byrd as he high fived his daughter. “I have been deployed for 7 months, and this is the pinnacle to all of that, waiting for her and getting to see my girl.”

Naval Today Staff, March 25, 2013