The USS Enterprise came home Wednesday to the cheers of thousands standing on a pier awaiting the aircraft carrier's return from a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and Horn of Africa.
Four smaller ships that were part of the carrier's strike group also returned to Norfolk Naval Station. The guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman arrived as "I'll Be Home for Christmas" blared on speakers.
Many of the nearly 7,500 sailors aboard the ships spent about 13 of the past 20 months at sea.
The Enterprise returned from a deployment in November 2006, only to head back to sea in July for another deployment that coincided with the Army's surge of 30,000 troops on the ground in Iraq.