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Friends, family welcome Pine Island sailor back home

Navy Fire Controlman First Class Zachary “Zak” Robertson deployed to Iraq, Syria aboard USS?Hue City

September 1, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Last Tuesday evening Aug. 22, Sheryl and Mike Robertson held a homecoming party for their son, U.S. Navy Fire Controlman First Class Zachary "Zak" Robertson.

The day before, Monday, Aug. 21, friends and family from around the country greeted Zak and the rest of the crew of the USS Hue City as it arrived at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville. The USS Hue (pronounced "way") City, part of the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group, had been deployed for 7 months in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

Operation Inherent Resolve is the U.S. military's operational name for the intervention against the Islamic states of Iraq and Syria.

Article Photos


U.S. Navy Fire Controlman First Class Zachary “Zak” Robertson, center, with his parents Sheryl and Mike Robertson at his homecoming party.

It's a slow process as the ship is carefully maneuvered to the dock. Sailors, standing at attention, lined the deck of the ship.

"It was especially exciting when we spotted Zak on the deck of the ship," his mother, Sheryl Robertson, said.

Along with his mother and dad, Mike, about 75 friends and family members turned out at Woody's of Cape Coral Tuesday evening for the homecoming celebration.

"It's really great to be home," Zak said. "It's difficult to wind down from the every day hustle. It's a big adjustment from an almost constant busy to just rest and relax."

Zak joined the Navy in March 2012.

"Both of my great-grandfathers served in the Navy," Robertson said. "My grandfather was in the Army and his brother was in the Air Force. I also have a cousin on active duty as a Marine."

Zak originally wanted to be in special forces.

"It was taking way too long," he said. "I had some corrective surgery on my eyes but it was taking too long for special forces so I decided to become a fire controlman."

Navy Personnel Command defines Navy Fire Controlman (FC) as one who "operates certain weapons systems aboard Navy surface combatant ships. This is a highly technical, highly challenging rating in the advanced electronics and computer field."

"I operate and maintain the radar system and also shoot the 5-inch guns," Zak said. "Cruisers like the USS Hue City have 5-inch guns on the front and the back."

As part of the tour, the USS Hue City performed maritime boarding actions called VBSS.

"VBSS stands for Visit, Board, Search and Seizure," he said. "This is done to combat terrorism, stop piracy and smuggling, confiscate drugs and other illegal items."

"During Zachary's first deployment aboard the USS Hue City, a fire broke out on the ship in April 2014," Sheryl said. "Zachary was one of just a few seamen that received a commendation medal for their efforts in putting out the fire. There were no injuries as a result of the quick action by the sailors on board."

"Finally, after all these months, I'm hoping that I can get a good night's sleep," Mike said. "I don't think I've had a full nights sleep since the Hue City left on Jan. 21. It's quite an event with the tugs spraying the water, the crowds cheering and horns blowing. We're very proud of Zak."

"I want give a special shout-out to Judy Lolly," Zak said. "I requested to get some of her 'secret' sea-grape jelly sent to me and Judy sent a batch. I enjoyed sea-grape jelly in several different countries."

"I'm just happy that he's home safe and sound," Sheryl said.



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