NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was originally set to head to U.S. European Command, but has since changed course to the Mediterranean. This comes as a result of the ongoing conflict in the Israeli war with Hamas.
The aircraft carrier deployed Saturday morning. Deployment was delayed to ensure the ship is in peak readiness.
But some of the other 8,000 sailors bid family and friends farewell at Naval Station Norfolk Friday. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is already in the eastern Mediterranean as the war in Israel rages.
It was a day full of emotions for those connected to the strike group — exciting for those finally able to put their training to use, but bittersweet for family and friends seeing them off.
“What we do on a daily basis matters,” said Rear Admiral Marc Miguez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 2. “And we’re going to make history in some form, fashion, function, wherever we go. And it’s something to be part of a historical event, to be part of the strike group.”
Commanding words from Miguez, as 8,000 sailors look to the east, embarking on their next journey. Guadalupe Cawich is the grandmother to two sailors onboard the USS Eisenhower.
“But I trust my God that he will take care of them,” Cawich said.
Two boys she raised and now is seeing off. For David Chavez, it’s his first deployment.
“He has a very dangerous job of, way on the top there, for the planes,” Cawich said. “So, I’m asking him to be careful, obey rules and everything, you know.”
His aunt, Graciana Crawford, served 21 years in the Navy. She and her husband drove up from North Carolina to say goodbye and said this experience is an honor.
“Someone has to stand the watch for our safety,” Graciana Crawford said. “We take freedom for granted. But God has blessed them that they can now stand the watch.”
His uncle, Courtney Crawford, served on the Eisenhower as well and is proud to see another family member onboard.
“I’ve been up there twice, so, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Courtney Crawford said. “Glad they get a chance to experience it and serve our country.”
As tensions grow overseas, family and friends know the risk their loved ones are taking. Now, they embrace them one more time and pray Anchors Aweigh brings them home again, safe and sound.
The strike group will deploy with four ships and more than 70 aircraft. And while the Navy can’t say just how long this deployment will last, usually deployments range from six to eight months.
Interestingly, the aircraft carrier deployed on Oct. 14 which happens to be the late President’s birthday.