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USS Abraham Lincoln leaves Naval Station Everett for the last time | SLIDESHOW
EVERETT — Compared to the crowds who had cheered their return just a few months ago, relatively few families stood on the pier to say farewell to their sailors, since most had already said their goodbyes before that point.
Still, it was no small number of siblings, parents, spouses and other loved ones who marked the final departure of USS Abraham Lincoln from Naval Station Everett by braving the cold rain to see the ship pull out of port on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Marysville’s Lakey Malan shared laughter with a couple of Naval Station Everett sailors with whom she’s become friends in the three years since her brother, Adam Taylor, has served on board the Lincoln.
“This was his first and only duty station in the Navy,” Malan said. “It was great, because he got to spend so much time at home with the family. We were even able to take in other sailors who were further away from their homes during the holidays. It was nice just to be able to have him around as often as I did to give him hugs.”
Taylor will soon be departing the fleet to start college, so Malan won’t be missing him for too long, but she regrets the bonds that she’ll be losing with her brothers’ shipmates.
“I’ve made a lot of friends on that ship that I’ll probably never see again,” Malan said. “We became like family. We were there for each other, to the point that you could call each other at 3 in the morning and know that you’d do whatever for each other. It’s hard when you get attached like that.”
Navy wives Shannon Huff and Danielle Sawicki also made Marysville their home while their husbands served on board the Lincoln. While Huff was an Oregon native who was well acclimated to the Pacific Northwest, Sawicki came from New York, but both agreed that the local community made them feel right at home.
“It was so supportive and welcoming,” Sawicki said.
“This is a very military-friendly area,” Huff said.
The Lincoln had just returned to Everett this March, and Huff lamented that she would again be missing her husband, Mitchell, over the holidays, especially since they have a newborn baby, the family’s first child. Sawicki joked that she and her husband, Phil, only have a dog as their “child.” While Sawicki will soon be moving to Virginia, where the Lincoln will be home-ported after it completes its routine deployment, Huff isn’t sure how long her husband will have to be a “geographic bachelor” before she can join him.
“It’s the Navy, and it is what it is,” Huff said. “You have a couple of days of sad, then you buck up, deal with it and move on.”
“As a Navy wife, you kind of know what you’re signing up for, but it’s never easy,” Sawicki said. “It’s for the greater good, though.”
Naval Station Everett Executive Officer Cmdr. Dan Limberg was on the pier to see the Lincoln off, and noted that the transition between the Lincoln and its replacement, the USS Nimitz, which he anticipated would arrive around February of next year, is more complex than civilians might realize.
“We’ve got a lot of Lincoln families who are still living in the area, waiting for when their sailors get orders to somewhere else,” Limberg said. “I’m sure we’ll see a lot of them coming back to the area as they get opportunities to serve on the Nimitz. We’ve also got some Nimitz families who are already living in the area, both on base and out in the community. Either way, the community’s support makes a big difference. This is some of the best community support I’ve seen in 23 years.”
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring reflected on how much the Lincoln has meant to his city since the carrier’s arrival in 1997.
“Lincoln families are a significant segment of our community’s population, for reasons ranging from affordable housing and a family-friendly culture to proximity to both Naval Station Everett and the Commissary/PX in north Marysville,” Nehring said. “Sailors aboard the Lincoln and their families have contributed in so many positive ways to the social and cultural fabric of Marysville, and we are a better community because of their contributions.”
“It has been a joy to have the families of the USS Lincoln in our community,” Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson said. “These sailors and their families have given much of themselves to help make Arlington a better place. We will truly miss each and every one of them. At the same time, we are excited to build similar partnerships with the families of the USS Nimitz.”