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Iwo Jima, 24th MEU Conduct Burial at Sea

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Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, held a burial at sea off the ship's forward elevator, June 8.

The cremated remains of 10 veterans were committed to rest while steaming through the Gulf of Aden.

"It's been a great honor for us on board the Iwo Jima to both remember and commit these Sailors that have served honorably, there's a great chain and we are a part of that tradition," said Cmdr. Jeff Etheridge, Protestant chaplain on board Iwo Jima. "We are standing on their shoulders, so it's really an honor that the families give us that type of trust, to be involved in this."

The naval courtesy is a custom extended to active duty members of the uniformed services, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command and dependent family members of active duty.

"A member of the naval service is a member until the end and beyond," said Capt. Grady Banister, commanding officer of Iwo Jima. "We, as the Navy, honor our Sailors from the beginning of their service until the end. As a Navy family, it's important to honor the memory of the member, as well as provide closure for the (veteran's) family."

Upon completion of the ceremony, the family of the departed veteran will receive a signed letter from Capt. Banister, rifle bullet casings from the 21-gun salute, a marked chart indicating where the burial at sea took place and a CD containing the photographs of the ceremony.

Iwo Jima and embarked 24th MEU are currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jamica Johnson, Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs