Christmas is a little more joyous this year for the Morley family.
That’s because their son, brother, grandson and nephew is home for the first time in three years to celebrate with them.
Taggart Morley, a petty officer second class in the Navy, returned home Dec. 14 after being stationed aboard the USS Reagan near Yokosuka, Japan. He was greeted at the Rochester airport by a large contingent of family and friends and a 4-foot-by-6-foot banner with his picture emblazoned on it.
Although Morley is a 2015 graduate of Pittsford Sutherland High School, his Geneva roots run deep. His mother, Wendy Guilfoose Morley, lives in Geneva as do his two grandmothers, Shirley Guilfoose and Mary Morley, and his aunt Pamela Morley Tierney. Morley’s brother Chase is a student at Adelphi University and another brother, Baird, is a sophomore at Geneva High School. His father, Brad Morley, and another brother live in Nashville but just arrived in Geneva to celebrate his return.
The airport welcoming party included about 10 people, but others who were waiting at the airport migrated to the Morley group, likely attracted by the banner for Taggart.
“Everybody kept asking us about it so by the time he arrived there were about 40 people,” said his aunt, Pamela Morley Tierney. “The minute Taggart came down everybody started clapping.”
To say Morley is happy to be home is an understatement. He described being out to sea as a love/hate relationship.
“I loved traveling that part of the world, hitting ports, but working 12-plus hours every day in a small space is challenging,” Morley said. “I describe it to people as Groundhog Day.”
Morley’s goals for his three weeks at home are simple. Catch up with family and American food.
“That’s all I can think of, spend as much time with my family as I can,” he said.
And top on his list of food that he missed while overseas was American pizza.
“We had Cam’s last night,” he said.
Getting home wasn’t easy. Morley had an 11-hour flight from Tokyo to Fort Worth; a flight from Fort Worth to Charlotte; then Charlotte home to Rochester.
“A lot of airplanes in two days,” he said.
But it was all worth it when he stepped into the baggage claim area and encountered such a supportive reception.
“It was really cool,” Morley said. “And overwhelming, coming back and seeing all my family there with a banner with my face on it.”
His next stop will be Pensacola, Fla., where he will be a water survival instructor. And Morley will continue to take classes online with Embry-Riddle University in aeronautical science.
“I love the Navy,” he said. “It’s done right by me so far.”