Jordan Bailey, second from left, stands proudly with wife, Kacie, son, Kaeden, cousin Wyatt Oberwitte and aunt Kathy Bailey beneath a banner made especially for him. Jordan recently returned from a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy and was greeted by friends and family at a surprise party Friday afternoon.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Jordan Bailey, second from left, stands proudly with wife, Kacie, son, Kaeden, cousin Wyatt Oberwitte and aunt Kathy Bailey beneath a banner made especially for him. Jordan recently returned from a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy and was greeted by friends and family at a surprise party Friday afternoon.

Serviceman returns home to warm reception

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Jordan Bailey's Welcome Home Party

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Jordan Bailey and his son, Kaeden, take a look at the cake made for Jordan’s homecoming party after spending several months overseas with the Navy. The picture of the father and son on the cake’s frosting was taken before Jordan shipped out in November 2011.

Quotable

“My family’s really important to me, my wife and my son mean the world to me, and they’re the reason I do what I do, and when I came home was just the greatest moment of my life. It’s kind of surreal because it gives you an appreciation for the guys who don’t come home.”

— Jordan Bailey, a Craig native and Damage Controlman-Petty Officer Second Class in the U.S. Navy, during a surprise party greeting him home Friday afternoon at American Legion Post 62

The most difficult day in Jordan Bailey’s life didn’t take place during his time serving overseas in the military.

The day he had to say goodbye to his wife, Kacie, and their infant son, Kaeden, was much more trying than anything he could have experienced while on active duty with the U.S. Navy.

And, after more than seven months at sea, getting back in touch with his loved ones has been all he’s thought about.

Jordan was welcomed home Friday night with a surprise party at American Legion Post 62.

A small crowd of family and friends were eager to see the Craig native return. Surprised as he was, Jordan was less surprised when he saw who had gathered everyone for such an occasion.

His aunt, Kathy Bailey, arranged the gathering.

“The first thing I was thinking when I walked in was, ‘Holy smokes,’ but I kind of thought she might have something planned,” he said. “It’s amazing because I haven’t been back for more than a couple weeks in the past four years.”

The opportunity to see his relatives is something the young sailor can’t get enough of since he joined the Navy in 2008, made all the more difficult when he was deployed as a Damage Controlman-Petty Officer Second Class aboard the USS Makin Island last November.

The amphibious assault ship took him halfway around the world, patrolling the Persian Gulf. Communication with people back home was limited.

“There were times when we could get emails, but we couldn’t send any,” he said. “You feel really isolated like that.”

In February, Jordan’s grandmother, Peggy Bailey, passed away, and he was unable to attend her funeral.

Though it took some time for his family to pass the word along to him, he wasn’t completely out of the loop.

“I got email after email and all kinds of correspondence from people letting me know they cared,” he said. “It was great knowing I had people in a small community like this that cared when I was on the other side of the world.”

Jordan said seeing parts of the world he wouldn’t otherwise see — at ports in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bahrain, to name a few — was quite an interesting experience, especially noting some of the similarities to the world he already knows.

“The funny thing is in every country, there’s still a Starbucks on every corner, there’s still a McDonald’s, it’s just the culture that’s different there,” he said.

The best sight Jordan said he could have beheld was when his ship pulled into dock in late June in San Diego and he saw Kacie and Kaeden waiting for him at the front of the crowd.

“At the time when you’re leaving, you don’t know what you’ll be doing, who you might run into, and you really don’t know what could happen,” he said, “My family’s really important to me, and my wife and my son mean the world to me, and they’re the reason I do what I do, and when I came home was just the greatest moment of my life.

"It’s kind of surreal because it gives you an appreciation for the guys who don’t come home.”

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