WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- This Independence Day, those who serve our country patrolling our waterways are celebrating with family and friends. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returned to port this morning.
It's the 4th of July, but for Stephanie Koch it feels like an entirely different holiday.
"I feel like the night before it's like Christmas Eve," said Koch, the wife of a seaman on the CGC Diligence. "You're just so excited you can hardly sleep. You're counting down the minutes. I woke up at 5:00 this morning, and they weren't even going to be here until 9 (a.m.), so I was like, 'Oh, my God, come on. Hurry up!" It's really exciting.)
She, like dozens of others, was there on the dock when the Diligence arrived. Patriotic balloons and signs greeted the crew as they made their way off the ship.
"It gets you more excited when you're coming under the bridge and you see everyone dressed up, sashes on and stuff," Stephanie's husband Seaman Matthew Kock said. "It makes you glad to be home."
Coming home is an exciting time, especially after being gone for two months. But coming home on a holiday like the 4th of July is extra special.
"It's always nice seeing the ship dressed up like this, and then we see different ships around Wilmington dressed up coming home on a very important holiday, very meaningful holiday it's a great feeling," Health Services Tech 1st Class Matthew Hinton said.
A majority of the deployment had the crew patrolling the waters near Haiti looking for migrants and smugglers. It's A mission that partially took place under a new commander. During deployment, Teri Jordan took over for Harry Schmidt, who was relieved temporarily because of a loss in confidence in his ability to command.
"Very smooth transition," Hinton said. "The new captain came in. She was awesome. Very smooth. We didn't feel a bump."
There's no update on when or if Cmdr. Schmidt will return to command the Diligence.
The crew will be home for about 45 days, and then it's back to sea.