NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Thousands of sailors and Marines deployed on Monday as a part of an amphibious ready group.
U.S. Navy officials said the Kearsarge group and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are setting out on a seven-month deployment.
The USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Arlington (LPD 24) deployed from Naval Station Norfolk. The Fort McHenry is based at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
The Kearsarge group also consists of Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 2 and FST 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 6.
The MEU is stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“Nobody likes to leave their family before the holidays especially and it’s hard on all of us, but I would also say it’s a privilege and an honor to deploy and defend our country,” said Kearsarge Commodore, Captain Blackburn.
The USS Arlington, Kearsarge, and Fort McHenry are headed to the European and Middle Eastern area of operations.
“We can’t talk about what we’re going to do but we are prepared to support our national defense,” said 22nd Marine Exp. Unit Commander, Colonel Michael Perez.
It was a hard scene to watch as the holiday heroes walked hand in hand with their family a final time before stepping onto the ship.
Megan Ronk beared the cold for hours to record her brother’s first deployment for their family back in Texas.
“I’ve spent every day with him and it’s like ‘oh what am I going to do without him now?’ I don’t really know how to be without him, so this is going to be tough for me, he was the only family I had out here,” said Ronk.
One marine isn’t going to just miss Christmas, but his first child’s birth.
“I’m due in one week..Oh yeah, she’s going to be a Christmas baby no doubt,” smiled Brittany Bautista.
It was an emotional afternoon, that left one of the service members heading out at a loss for words.
“It’s emotional, it’s hard to talk about it,” he said.
“They can enjoy their Christmas, we will assume the sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” added Colonel Perez.