SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2011 -- It was a tearful but joyous scene dockside as the USS Carl Vinson made its way into port, bringing home the sailors who had buried Osama bin Laden at sea.
Children held up signs that read "Welcome Home Daddy." Wives had signs that said "Come Meet Your Son."
Among the 6,000 crew members about to disembark, there were maybe two dozen dads who had never met their children until today -- as they had been deployed for 6 ½ months in the Pacific Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
The sailors, all in white, stood along the edge of the flight deck as the ship slowly inched its way into port. They waved at family members and gave fist pumps.
As the sailors disembarked, many carrying green sacks filled with their possessions, the scene took on the air of a street fair, with bands playing as the sailors sought out their families waiting nearby.
Roy Dye was among those dads meeting a son for the first time. "I've seen pictures of him but nothing compares to seeing him in person," said Dye. "It's amazing. Right now, it's a very exciting time for America."
This often happens at the end of any deployment, but this homecoming was extra special, because these crew members had buried bin Laden.
While the sailors wouldn't provide any "operational" details about the bin Laden burial, they've repeatedly expressed pride in having served on this mission. Many said they worried about their families once news broke that they were the ones who carried out the burial.
Cmdr. Samuel Perez of Carrier Strike Group One held a short news conference, and said it was an incredible experience to be part of the crew that had buried bin Laden. "It is historic, absolutely historic," said Perez. "And we're proud of that. It's one of those footnote histories."
But, like the sailors, Perez stayed mum about the details. "I'm a sailor, and I follow the rules," he said. "They told me this is classified, and they told me I couldn't talk about any of the details."
To anyone out there hunting for bin Laden's body, Perez had two words: "Good luck."