"I was more excited to see his reaction to his son, as excited as I was to see him...and he hasn't put him down since," said Melissa Bruce in regard to her husband returning home to meet his son for the first time. Credit: John Castelluccio
Bruce, 33, is a second class boatswain mate stationed on the U.S.S. Pearl Harbor out of San Diego, Calif. and just finished a three-month humanitarian mission to the Pacific Islands.
While he was away, his wife Melissa, 34 and a 1996 Peabody High grad, gave birth to their first child: Jaxson Grey Bruce on July 27.
The family was finally reunited this past Sunday at Melissa's parents' home in Peabody where she had been staying for the past several months while pregnant.
Robert and Melissa (and young Jaxson) sat down for an interview with Peabody Patch that evening to talk about their experience. It was the second time the couple had been separated due to a military deployment since they got married in 2009. The first time was for seven-and-a-half months with Bruce sailing to the Persian Gulf shortly after he finished training and they arrived in San Diego in 2011.
Both husband and wife said it was a tough challenge to get through those months, even more so this time with the pregnancy, knowing ahead of time they wouldn't be together when the due date arrived.
Thanks to support from family and friends in the Navy, however, they were able to stick to their plan, email regularly and share lots of pictures. Bruce just received family leave a week early and flew home from Hawaii on Sunday.
Once his 18 days of leave are up, the family plans on moving back out to San Diego where Bruce will finish out the last two of his four years in the Navy.
He said he's not sure at this point whether he wants to serve longer -- he does hope to make use of the GI benefits for graduate studies and noted that if he serves 10 years, he can then transfer those college tuition benefits to his son.