Mayport ships involved in ISIS air strikes

By Vic Micolucci, General assignment reporter, vic@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 08 2014 11:31:35 AM EDT
Updated On: Aug 08 2014 07:15:30 PM EDT

Locally based sailors are playing a role in the air strikes on targets in Iraq.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Two Mayport-based ships, the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, and the destroyer USS Roosevelt, are with the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, from where air strikes are being launched on ISIS units in Iraq.

As a result, hundreds of sailors stationed at Naval Station Mayport are involved in combat operations.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville-based helicopter squadron HSM 70 is with the USS George H.W. Bush.

There are likely some Mayport-based helicopters with those ships as well.

"They are providing direct support of the carrier battle group to make sure the ships are safe, to make sure the airspace in and around the carriers are safe, and actually controlling the waters of the Persian Gulf," said Sean Cronin, a retired Navy pilot and attorney.

Cronin said the military is very careful and good at its job, but "anytime that we are sending American aircraft into foreign airspace that are delivering weapons that we are putting military pilots in harm's way, obviously we are seeing a lot about surface to air missiles, so there is risk to U.S. pilots any time this is going on."

The U.S. started small, targeted air strikes in the northern part of Iraq to take out the enemies trying to overthrow Iraq's government.

Dave Seamans' son, Timothy Seamans, made the ultimate sacrifice, killed nine years ago serving for the Army in Iraq. Now he's watching the situation closely the air strikes against ISIS are underway.

"There is always that possibility that more people could lose their lives," Dave Seamans said. "In anything there is that possibility. And it concerns me."

Retired Maj. Doug Burnett said he's not surprised the U.S. is stepping in to stop the rebels and he thinks things will escalate.

"If we are going to help those people, we have got to come in strong and put an end to the ISIS campaign," Burnett said. "This is a decisively engaged in force, and they will continue unless we roll in with some pretty heavy firepower, and hopefully it all comes from the air."

Seamans just hopes no Americans lose their lives like his son did.

"I don't foresee us going boots on the ground again," he said. "I certainly hope not."

"I support this mission and President Obama's decision to disrupt ISIS's efforts that murder and sow lawlessness in the Middle East," Rep. Corrine Brown said in a statement. "I will continue to monitor this situation closely, and I commend the dedicated service of our young men and women performing these humanitarian missions."

"The President's decision to authorize targeted military airstrikes in Iraq is appropriate under the current circumstances," Rep. Ander Crenshaw said in a statement. "However, we are once again plagued by a lack of leadership and no long-term course strategy from President Obama for dealing with the threat that ISIS poses to this region and beyond."

The air strikes could extend the deployments of local military members.

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