US Navy Petty Officer Nadia Francis returned to Trinidad, where she was born, aboard the US Navy Ship (USNS) Burlington on Monday.
The USNS is here from September 13-15 for joint training exercises with the TT Defence Force (TTDF).
Francis, originally from Morvant, said she left Trinidad in 1996 at 17 and has not returned since.
“I have not been in TT for about 25 years, but I am happy to be on this ship and see my family and to taste the food that I’ve missed so much and even have to opportunity to have my shipmates taste Trinidad life.”
She said she has cousins in Trinidad, though her parents and siblings all live in the US.
Francis, ranked Petty Officer second class, said she has been in the Navy for 11 years.
“It’s been a dream and I’m proud to wear the uniform.”
She said she joined the military to take care of her family.
“I had heard a lot of great things about serving the country and I joined. I got up one day and said, ‘I want to do something great.’”
She said when she thinks about Trinidad, she remembers Christmas and Carnival the most.
“I loved Christmas so much as a child. It was the best thing. I don’t experience Christmas (in the US) the way I did in Trinidad.
“And the Carnival,” she said with a smile. “The festivals are always something to see.”
She also remembers Divali and the beaches.
Francis has two children, one of whom is also in the US Navy.
“I am so proud of being in the military; to travel and see the world. My son is in the military as he loves it.”
Francis said she enjoyed some of her favourite local dishes yesterday with her cousins, including roti, doubles, and Mario's pizza.